MORGANTOWN — The deadline to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program has been extended through Feb. 7 to encourage more farmers and ranchers to participate.
The stewardship program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The offer for new enrollments for fiscal year 2014 was opened in December 2013. The original deadline to enroll in this year’s program was last Friday.
“Extending the deadline is an excellent way to allow for more land owners to participate and increase productivity in West Virginia,” said NRCS State Conservationist Kevin Wickey. “The Conservation Stewardship Program supports West Virginia farmers and ranchers who voluntarily take action to use our conservation practices to improve the management of their properties. With the CSP program, they are improving the quality of their soil, water and other key resources creating sustainable land.”
The CSP is now in its 5th year and so far NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 160,000 acres across West Virginia. The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.
Some popular enhancements used by West Virginia farmers and ranchers under CSP include: using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed; modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped; burning patches of land, mimicking prairie fires to enhance wildlife habitat; and rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.
Local NRCS offices accept and evaluate CSP applications year round. Application evaluations only take place during announced ranking periods. A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. More information about CSP is available by visiting wvnrcs.usda.gov or nrcs.usda.gov.