Many agencies have cost-share programs to assist landowners with land management and conservation practices. Practices that are eligible for cost-share funding include: reforestation, timber stand improvement, soil and water protection, riparian area protection, wildlife habitat improvement, tree planting and others. See the list of agencies below for a detailed explanation of their cost-share programs.
Conservation Reserve Program
This is a USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program designed to take cropland with severe erosion potential out of production and to provide improved environmental benefits. Eligible participants must have cropland erosion exceeding a specified rate and/or be willing to install certain environmental protection practices subject to program guidelines. Landowners must sign a contract agreeing to take the specified land out of production for a minimum of 10 years. In return, the participant will receive an annual payment plus 50 percent of the cost of installing certain conservation practices.
The Division of Forestry's role is to provide the technical recommendations and assistance to those participants who wish to plant their land in trees. This requires close coordination with the local representative of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) who is responsible for determining eligibility and preparing a farm plan for the participant. Contact the local FSA office for further assistance. Current participants who previously planted grass to control erosion may now convert to planting trees, which will extend the contract from 10 to 15 years.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP was authorized by the 1996 Farm Bill and combines the functions of several former USDA programs under one umbrella. EQIP establishes conservation priority areas where significant soil, water or related natural resource problems exist and the majority of the funds are earmarked to be spent in these areas. The program provides landowners with up to 75 percent cost-share for establishment of a number of practices including tree planting. Eligible land is defined as agricultural land that poses a serious problem to soil, water or related resources. Each request is ranked by an environmental benefits index to guarantee that the most environmental return is received for each dollar expended. Application should be made with the local NRCS office.
Kentucky Soil and Water Conservation Program
This is a state cost-share program funded through state appropriation. It provides 75 percent cost-share for a variety of agriculturally-related soil and water protection/improvement practices. Forestland erosion control systems are eligible for cost-share assistance. Other practices, such as riparian area protection, may have forestry applications. This program is administered through the local soil conservation district. The Division of Forestry provides technical assistance for forestry-related practices. Application should be made at the local NRCS office.