Private landowners are responsible for the use and management of over two-thirds of our nation's land, including some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat in the United States. Farmers, ranchers, foresters and other landowners voluntarily participated in federal Farm Bill conservation programs authorized at $6.1 billion in FY 2012. Targeting those funds toward priority conservation objectives and maximizing their benefits are the primary goals of Conservation Partners.
Grants funded through Conservation Partners provide staff and technical assistance to private landowners in regions where some of the nation’s most crucial conservation issues can be addressed through Farm Bill programs. Funding priorities for this program seek to build the following capacities:
- Expertise in comprehensive natural resource conservation planning
- Discipline-specific expertise: aquatics, forestry, general ecology, rangeland ecology, wetlands, and wildlife
- Resource-specific scientific expertise to support development of science-based tools. These might include wildlife habitat evaluation and management guidelines; best management practices to be used in association with NRCS conservation practice implementation (e.g., best management practices for the use of prescribed grazing for the management of native prairie for lesser prairie chickens)
- Scientific expertise and experience to help facilitate integration of current scientific knowledge and technologies into NRCS/NFWF Conservation Initiatives
- Technical expertise in developing methodologies to monitor, assess, evaluate and report on measurable resource conservation outcomes
- Farm Bill program and marketing outreach to improve landowners' and customers' understanding of Farm Bill programs and NRCS practices, standards and strategic initiatives and increase landowner and partner participation.
Through these regional grants, this conservation program has begun to place expert staff ("boots-on-the-ground") where they can maximize outreach to the private landowner. In this way, Farm Bill conservation dollars can be utilized most efficiently and effectively.