Conservation Cost Share Programs
Natural resources districts have a statutory mission to conserve, protect, develop and manage the natural resources of the state.
One way that the North Platte NRD accomplishes this goal is cooperating with landowners and the state of Nebraska to provide conservation cost-share programs that combine the financial resources of landowners, the NRD, and the state to provide financial incentives to landowners to protect soil, water and other resources for the general welfare.
Most of these programs reimburse landowners for a portion of the costs they incur in making improvements that protect resources. These programs include:
- Conservation Cost-Share Program
- Nebraska Buffer Strip Program
- Panhandle No-Till Partnership
Conservation Cost-Share Program
Funded by both District money and the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Fund, the Conservation Cost Share Program reimburses landowners for part of the cost of installing various conservation practices on their land. The cost-share rate is 50 percent of the actual costs, but some practices are based on a per-acre rate. Landowners contact the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for technical assistance in implementing these practices.
- Irrigation water management
- Planned grazing systems
- Terrace systems & underground outlets
- Water impoundment dams
- Grade stabilization structures
- Irrigation tailwater recovery pits
- Water & sediment control basins
- Grassed waterways
- Livestock water runoff dugouts
- Range seeding or pasture planting
- Critical area planting
- Underground irrigation water return pipe
- Livestock water facilities
- Streambank stabilization
The main instrument of the NRCS is the 2014 Farm Bill and related programs.
Farm Bill Programs
The North Platte NRD works closely with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on help find solutions to natural resources issues. We continue to take sign-ups for the following programs on a year-round basis:
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – Provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers to maintain and improve natural resources. Traditional practices, as well as fisheries habitat improvement, are emphasized.
- Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) – Encourages the creation of high-quality wildlife habitats. Technical and financial assistance is provided to landowners to develop upland, wetland, aquatic, and riparian habitats on their property.
- Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) – Assists landowners who want to enhance existing wetlands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. Participant options include both: cost-share agreements and permanent easements.
- Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) – This program assists landowners in restoring grasslands. Program emphasis is to support grazing operations, plant and animal biodiversity, and lands that are under the greatest threat of conversion.
Nebraska Buffer Strip Program
Landowners can enroll cropland adjacent to streams and other bodies of water in the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program by signing up at local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices.
The program provides annual, per-acre payments to landowners who plant buffer strips along the banks of streams and ponds. Buffer strips can reduce the amount of silt and agricultural chemicals that enter surface waters. Payments are available for new buffer strips and existing buffer strips established after January 1, 1996.
The NRCS will evaluate each application to determine eligibility and payment amount. If the NRCS determines an application to be eligible and the application is approved by the NRD and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), the producer may enter into a contact with the local natural resources district. Funding is determined on a point system established by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
The Nebraska Buffer Strip Program was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 1998, and is funded through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Fees assessed on all pesticides registered for use in Nebraska fund the program.
Here are some general terms of the Buffer Strip Program. Contracts must run for at least five years, but no more than 10 years.
- Non-irrigated cropland rates are determined using the CRP rental rates for soil types found in the area. Irrigated rates are a flat rate of $150 per acre, regardless of soil type or geographic location. Other program payments are subtracted from the maximum payment allowed to determine the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program (NBSP) payment.
- Limited haying and grazing is allowed.
- Buffer strips can include grass, forb, tree, and shrub species according to NRCS guidelines.
- Buffer strips will be between 20 feet and 100 feet wide.
- Minimum buffer strip area is 1 acre; there is no maximum.
- The NRD will inspect buffer strips to ensure compliance during the five to 10-year contract period.
Panhandle No-Till Partnership
The North Platte NRD is one of the founding members of the Panhandle NO-Till Partnership. The
Partnership’s mission is to educate, promote, and facilitate no-till practices throughout the panhandle on Nebraska. The Partnerships offers educational events, such as field days and a Winter Conference, to educate area producers on the latest research, benefits, techniques, and equipment involved with no-till.
To find out more about no-till and the Panhandle No-Till Partnership, visit their website at www.panhandlenotill.org.
The Panhandle No-Till Partnership was formed in 2008 as a joint effort between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Panhandle Resource Conservation & Development, Inc. (RC&D), and the North Platte NRD, South Platte NRD, and Upper Niobrara-White NRD.
Additional Conservation Cost Share Information
For sign-up information on any of these Cost-Share programs, contact the North Platte NRD at (308) 632-2749.
Note: The programs of the North Platte Natural Resources District, such as conservation trees, cost-share and others, are available only within the North Platte NRD.
The North Platte NRD often works with other agencies and organizations to implement projects and programs, including:
- The North Platte NRD works with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide cost-share and resources management programs.
- Natural Resources Conservation Service - technical services and administration for many NRD programs.
- NRCS Resource Needs and Concerns page here.
- Nebraska Department of Natural Resources - funding for flood control and soil and water conservation projects
- Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality - regulatory guidance and funding for pollution control efforts
- Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - funding and administration for wildlife habitat projects
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension
- Nebraska Forest Service
- Other NRDs, cities, counties, and many local organizations.