All of us rely on nature’s benefits during our daily routines, but few stop to think about how we can sustain those benefits over time. Luckily, there are economists, resource managers, and policymakers working on tools to help manage resources—and environmental markets are one of those tools. Environmental markets allow people who use ecosystem services to pay those who provide environmental benefits. In some cases, the environmental stewards who can provide benefits (like clean water, air and habitats) are farmers. While there is promise in environmental markets, there are a lot of kinks to work out.
Two new issue papers by the World Resources Institute, take a deep dive into the mechanics of water quality trading and other environmental markets by exploring options for market development. The papers were produced with support from the USDA Office of Environmental Markets, and were released earlier this month. Read more »
When the sign-up window opened for USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in 2012, the five-member NRCS Alpine Resource Team was ready. The team is responsible for more than nine million acres of the Trans-Pecos region of Texas, and protecting the region’s natural resources comes first.
CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers who are already participating in NRCS conservation programs to take their efforts to the next level. Participants address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner with financial and technical assistance from NRCS—not only by tackling new practices, but also by maintaining, improving and managing the existing conservation measures on their operation. The program, begun in 2009, was still fairly new in 2012. Read more »
NRCS Soil Scientist Roger Windhorn shows participants the differences in soil layers and what makes a healthy soil.
A recent tour in Livingston, Ill. showcased the successes a powerful partnership has had in the Indian Creek Watershed.
The 6th Annual Conservation in Action Tour was organized by the Conservation Technology Information Center to highlight community efforts in the watershed taking place under the auspices of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative.
Through the initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partners work with landowners and farmers to address nutrient loading in priority small watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin. Program participants implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands and enhance wildlife habitat while allowing them to sustain or improve agricultural productivity. Illinois is one of the 13 states included in the initiative. Read more »
By Paige Buck, Illinois NRCS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Illinois is working to get the word out on the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and encourage signup by landowners who may have heard about the program but are still “on the fence.”
CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.
Kevin Green, conservation farmer and partner of both NRCS and the local Soil and Water Conservation District, is a strong supporter of CSP and helped spread the word about the program by hosting a “CSP Field Day” on his farm in Vermilion County, Illinois. He values CSP because it rewards him for the conservation work he’s already done on his farm and it helps him do even more.
Devin Brown of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) helped organize the event. ISA is a strong NRCS partner in Illinois that supports conservation and conservation programs.
The group observed some of Kevin’s easy-to-implement conservation practices and asked Kevin and local NRCS District Conservationists many questions.
As a result, NRCS expects to receive a few more CSP enrollment applications from the local field office. Kudos to Mr. Green and Mr. Brown for a great CSP field day!
Kevin Green (center, pointing) points out one of the many conservation practices on his Vermilion County Illinois farm, which is currently enrolled in NRCS’ Conservation Stewardship Program.
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