Conservation Assistance Programs
Foster County Soil Conservation District will assist with contacting and applying to available conservation programs that help landowners and producers engage in conservation practices. There are a number of programs available from federal and state agencies and from private organizations. SCD staff can also assist with planning practices, and with installing some. See also Conservation Planning Resources for information that can help with planning and installing conservation practices.
USDA Conservation Programs
Agricultural producers can apply to the federal programs listed below for assistance with conservation practices.
Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs: Click on "Programs & Initiatives" at the top of the page to learn more about these and other programs, or click on the "USDA Service Center" link partway down the page to find local contact information.
EQIP: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps agricultural producers adopt/apply conservation practices at set rates to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. The deadline for the current sign-up is June 9th, 2023.
CSP: The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment. Applications for the current signup are due April 14th, 2023.
CRP: The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the main conservation program administered by FSA. It pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality. Information about this and other FSA conservation programs are available on their Conservation Programs web page. There is currently a General Signup available through April 7th, 2023. Continuous CRP signup is also available.
North Dakota Tree Planting Programs
Note that tree planting assistance may also available through USDA and ND Game and Fish programs. While other programs include trees as one of the eligible conservation practices, the two programs listed here are specifically for tree planting and windbreak management.
Even if the application deadline for a tree program has passed, we can still begin planning your tree planting for a future application. Please call or stop in to discuss these or any other conservation programs; more planning information is available on the Tree Information and Tree Services pages. You might also check out the Conservation Planning Resources section of the News and Information page to help plan trees and other conservation practices.
NDCDEA Tree Planting Initiative: This grant from the ND Outdoor Heritage Fund is administered by the ND Soil Conservation District Employees Association. It offers 75% cost share to install approved tree plantings. Applications including a tree plan that meets specifications are usually due in late summer. The application deadline for 2024 plantings was March 30th, 2023, although there may be another round later this summer. The minimum size planting that can apply at our current rates is 2000 feet of trees. Contact SCD staff for application information and planning assistance.
ND Forest Service Windbreak Renovation Initiative: This program offers technical and financial assistance to restore, protect, and enhance deteriorating windbreaks. Current applications for a plan to remove and replant trees would result in replanting in 2024. Applications are due September 30, 2022; however, site visits to assess the existing tree stand, which are required for this program, must be completed by August 31. For more information, contact SCD staff for windbreak evaluation, planning, and application assistance or see the Windbreak Renovation Initiative web page.
State Agency Programs
These state agency programs work with private landowners to improve soil health and wildlife habitat on working agricultural lands.
ND Game & Fish Department: Most, although not all, programs from NDG&F are part of the PLOTS (Private Land Open to Sportsmen) program, which requires that participants agree to allow public access for walk-in hunting. Practices available through various programs may include wildlife tree/shrub plantings, grazing systems, cover crops, buffer strips, planting native grasses and forbs, seeding food plots, and other practices. In some cases, these programs can pay up to 100% of costs for qualifying wildlife habitat plantings.
Working Lands Program: Their most popular habitat program provides a multi-year rental and access payment for maintaining conservation practices, habitat features, and management activities that have a positive impact on wildlife habitat on active agricultural lands.
Meadowlark Initiative: A cooperative strategy between NDG&F and other conservation partners such as NRCS to assist landowners and producers in restoring and enhancing grasslands.
Save Our Lakes: The Save Our Lakes program was created to help address water quality issues throughout the state. It is available to private individuals that own land around many of the Department's managed waterbodies and upstream for a distance of 5 miles. This program can also be combined with federal, state and NGO programs to potentially pay up to 100% of the project costs. In Foster County, eligible water bodies include the James River and Dry Lake/Lake George watersheds. Update: This program has been discontinued, but the Private Lands Section has other options.
Soil Health Cover Crop Program: A lottery system to reimburse some qualified applicants who plant cover crops by August 31, 2022. Applications must be completed by Oct. 1. For more information on qualification requirements and application, see website.
State Water Bank Program: This ND Department of Agriculture program is currently closed.
Conservation Programs Working With Other Organizations
Working Grasslands Partnership: WGP provides financial and technical assistance to convert expiring CRP into livestock grazing systems.
Cover Crop and Livestock Integration Project: CCLIP aims to improve soil health by offering producers 60% cost-share on grazing infrastructure, cover crop seed and windbreak panels on cropland.
Other conservation assistance programs are available, including their Working Lands Program which offers 100% cost share on grassland and wetland restoration plus 50% cost share on water and grazing infrastructure.
Great Plains Audubon covers the Dakotas and Nebraska and has Working Lands programs that include:
The Conservation Forage Program, a potential alternative to CRP, which offers cost-share assistance and a rental payment to convert marginal croplands back into grasslands for grazing or haying.
The Conservation Ranching Initiative, which helps ranchers develop Habitat Management Plans and certifies ranches as bird-friendly, and they can provide technical and financial assistance in implementing management that increases the resilience and biodiversity of grasslands through the Prairie Management Toolbox Program.
The North Dakota Prescribed Fire Cooperative, which provides assistance with prescribed fire management as well as training for private landowners and rural fire departments.
Precision Ag Program: Assists producers in understanding how their farm-specific data can serve as a guide to identifying areas where management changes and conservation programs can improve the profitability of low-yielding areas. Changes that are implemented as a result of this analysis are also beneficial for wildlife habitat, building soil health, increasing water quality, and improving sustainability.
North Dakota Stockmen’s Association:
Environmental Services Program provides technical and cost-share assistance for management solutions that help livestock operators comply with regulations and enhance their operations.