Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White announced that NRCS has received 21,300 applications to participate in the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). These applications cover an estimated 33 million acres, nationwide.

“NRCS has received enough applications to carry out conservation activities on more than twice the number of acres Congress authorized for CSP this year,” White said. “This incredible response shows that conservation-minded producers and landowners want to attain higher levels of conservation stewardship.”

Congress capped the annual acreage enrollment nationally at 12,769,000 for each fiscal year. The final national and state-by-state numbers on acreage nationwide will be available in November 2009.

CSP provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural and forestry producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air and related natural resources on their land, and encourages producers to voluntarily implement more conservation practices and improve, maintain and manage existing ones.

Lands accepted into CSP include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial private forestland—a new land use for the program—and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.

Individual landowners/operators, legal entities, corporations and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for CSP assistance.

Those who are not approved for funding through this first sign-up will have the option to participate in the second sign-up period, which will be held from Oct. 1 through January 2010.

For additional information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, the interim final rule, and to submit comments please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/new_csp or visit your local NRCS field office.