Natural Resources Conservation Service

A Legacy of Conservation: More Than 75 Years of Helping People Help The Land

Originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), NRCS has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change.

Seventy percent of the land in the United States is privately owned, making stewardship by private landowners absolutely critical to the health of our Nation’s environment.

NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.

A Brief History of NRCS

On April 27, 1935 Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that "the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands . . .  is a menace to the national welfare" and established the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA. In 1994, SCS’s name was changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency’s concerns. In doing so, Congress reaffirmed the federal commitment to the conservation of the nation's soil and water resources, first made 75 years ago, that continues to this day.

Learn about available NRCS programs here.

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1 Introductory article was found for Natural Resources Conservation Service

pdf Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0: Investment Strategy, FY 2015-2018

Related Success Stories for Natural Resources Conservation Service

America’s Private Lands Conservation Partnership
Conservation Districts carry out natural resource management programs at the local level and work with more than 2.5 million cooperating landowners on nearly 98 percent of U.S. private lands.

American Fork Canyon Home Rivers Project
Trout Unlimited, a third party “Good Samaritan,” will restore abandoned mines on private property to improve trout habitat in American Fork Canyon.

Arkansas Conservation Partnership
The partnership is a unique force, combining the strengths of federal, state and local organizations along with educational institutions, to help preserve and protect The Natural State.

Assisting Agricultural Producers in Improving Water Quality
Partners assist agricultural producers in improving water quality and provide education, technical assistance and financial assistance to owners and operators of animal feeding operations.

Audubon California Landowner Stewardship Program
Audubon California works with farmers and ranchers in the Sacramento Valley to implement restoration projects in a manner compatible with existing agricultural operations.

Bahia Grande Estuary Restoration
Restorated tidal exchange and estuary functions of an 11,000 acre barren basin and reestablished critical habitat for fish, wildlife and waterfowl.

Baraboo River Cooperative Restoration
Partners worked together to remove four aged, unsafe, and uneconomical dams that blocked fish movement, damaged water quality, and endangered river users on the 128 mile Baraboo River mainstem.

Buffalo Creek Riparian Buffer Restoration
Agencies, universities, non-profits, and foundations offered cost share and technical assistance for riparian and instream habitat restoration.

Central Texas Sustainability Partnership
Conflict over habitat for two endangered species resulted in a diverse working group able to address the needs of both the species and affected landowners.

Cheney Lake Water Quality Project
Farmers, the City of Wichita, and NRCS and EPA partnered to fund and implement conservation practices to clean and protect the city’s water supply at Cheney Lake.

Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake Bay Commission
The Chesapeake Bay Program is a multi-state, multi-agency effort to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay through sound land-use decisions.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Conservation
Regional partnership works with farmers to improve agricultural practices and improve water quality within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Community Floodplain Buyout Partnership
Missouri watershed project used to buyout more than 100 frequently flooded residences and businesses in Piedmont. In their place are a park and a hiking trail.

Confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers
Conservation organizations and landowners partnered to acquire 1,465 acres bordering the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, located in McKenzie County, northwestern North Dakota.

Conservation Security Program in the St. Joseph Watershed
The Conservation Security Program in the St. Joseph watershed rewards agricultural landowners for superior conservation and stewardship practices.

Conserving Georgia's Dwindling Farmland
The Athens Land Trust and the Oconee Partnership for Farmland Protection worked to place a conservation easement on a portion of the Breedlove-Powers Farm in rapidly-developing Oconee County, Georgia.

Conserving Prairie Ranches, Ranchers, and Grassland Birds
A landscape-level project that uses purchased conservation easements to conserve native grasslands and wetlands vital to ranchers and grassland birds.

Cooperative Air Quality Workshops
A series of agricultural air quality workshops were offered to San Joaquin Valley farmers to create Conservation Management Practice plans (CMPs).

Cooperative Conservation in Louisiana
Partnership seeks to restore thousands of acres of black bear, waterfowl and songbird habitat throughout Louisiana’s “hardwood rain forest”.

Cusick Wetland Restoration
The Partnership restored a wetland, created a wetland educational site, and established a park.

Dakota County Minnesota Farmland and Natural Areas Program
This voluntary program seeks to protect 5,000-10,000 acres of priority Dakota County farmlands and natural areas over the next 10 years.

Data Verifies BMPs Improve Water Quality
Partners gathered data to prove that installed BMPs have a positive impact on water quality – 92% bedload sediment reduction; 75% nitrate reduction.

District,NRCS target irrigation water quality
NRCS and Central Platte Natural Resources District use EQIP and district cost share funds to target cost-share funds at priority water quality irrigation farmers.

Dry Creek Quarry Restoration
Since 2004, Sequoia Riverlands Trust has been restoring natural stream flows, recontouring disturbed areas, seeding native grasses and planting oak and sycamore trees at this former gravel mine.

Ducktrap River Tributary Restoration Project
The goal of the Ducktrap River project was to protect federally-endangered Atlantic Salmon and other cold water species by stabilizing the eroding portions of the tributary channel.

Endangered Species Act Assurances for Private Landowners
Private landowners with approved NRCS-RMS conservation plans are able to use their lands for work and conservation with a minimum of red tape.

Energy Grants to Agricultural Producers
A partnership was formed to assist agricultural producers in enhancing the economic viability of their poultry production facilities through improved energy efficiency.

Escobar's Highland Farm
After years of hard work, Aquidneck Land Trust reached a monumental agreement with Louis and Jane Escobar to acquire the deed to development rights on 75 contiguous acres of the Portsmouth farm.

Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership
The Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership is a dynamic partnership of federal, state and local governments, land-management agencies, private landowners, conservation organizations and others.

Grass Roots Source Water Protection Program
Grassroots outreach and education program encourages voluntary conservation by landowners, farmers and ranchers to prevent drinking water pollution.

Grassland Ecological Area Enhancement and Restoration Project
The Grassland Ecological Area Enhancement and Restoration Project enhanced and restored wetlands and associated habitats in the Grasslands Ecological Area in the heart of the Central Valley.

Great Bay Partnership Land and Waterfowl Conservation
Using a partnership-developed conservation plan, nearly 7,000 acres of wetlands and uplands adjoining New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary have been protected.

Guide for South Dakota Rural Homeowners
The project/publication helps people to understand natural resources to better manage their small acreages for a healthier environment and guides them to available programs and services.

Helping Indian Tribes Manage Natural Resources
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe recently completed a Comprehensive Resource Management Plan with the assistance of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on their 475,000 acre Reservation.

Illinois River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
The Illinois River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) helps farmers improve water quality in the Illinois River and restore bottomland habitat through conservation easements.

Iowa Buffer Team
A unique group of public and private partners joined forces to promote the establishment of buffers on agricultural lands.

Iowa Soybean Association Agronomic & Environmental Programs
To empower farmers to compare new crop production practices and inputs with current management practices to improve their economic returns and lessen their environmental impact.

Kagman Watershed Project
Joint effort by CNMI Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, Saipan & No. Islands SWCD and USDA NRCS to address flooding of agricultural land during rainy season & irrigation shortage during dry season.

Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan
HCP encourages voluntary creation and management of endangered Karner blue butterfly habitat on private lands through incentives and support.

Lake Seldom Wetland Restoration Community Open Space
A rural community incorporates wetlands into a open space system. A multitude of partners pooled funds for acquisition and restoration.

Land Restoration/Revegetation – Fort Hood
Dairy compost was used to revegetate degraded training maneuver areas that caused soil erosion and water quality issues.

Leopold Memorial Reserve
Coordination among private landowners stopped land fragmentation, initiated habitat monitoring, and improved management which produced significant ecological research and educational opportunities.

Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Study
The plan would make significant progress towards achieving and sustaining a coastal ecosystem that can support and protect the environment, economy and culture of southern Louisiana and the Nation.

Louisiana Coastal Area Land Change Study Group
Multi-year, multi-agency coastal restoration and rehabilitation project responding to loss of 1,900 square miles of coastal land and marsh during the 20th century.

Malpai Borderlands Partnership
The rancher-led partnership is protecting privately-owned land and working landscapes through easements, grass-banking and habitat restoration.

Maryland Conservation Partnership
NRCS provided technical expertise and project management to the Navy and conservation partners to restore eroding shoreline and wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay.

McKenzie Creek Watershed Project
The project consists of voluntary acquisition of frequently flooded properties in the City of Piedmont and development of a habitat enhancing greenway.

Measuring Conservation Practices
A GIS-based model was developed to determine the effects of best management practices for agricultural lands on erosion and sedimentation rates.

Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program
The MAEP program provides education, technical assistance, and verification to help farmers voluntarily prevent agricultural pollution risks.

Michigan's Copper Country Cooperative Partnership
In 1998, NRCS contracted with the EPA to remediate about 800 acres of exposed stamp sand areas to prevent erosion into Torch Lake.

Missouri Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Missouri Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) provides incentives to farmers to restore riparian buffers to reduce sediment, pollutant, and bacterial loading of waterways.

Missouri Department of Conservation/NRCS Partnership
The Missouri Department of Conservation shares office space with NRCS and assists with the application of farm bill programs.

Missouri SWCD/NRCS Partnership
Missouri NRCS' partnership with local soil and water conservation districts is tops in reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality.

Mitchell River Coalition
The Mitchell River Coalition came together to protect and improve the watershed and water quality of the Mitchell River.

Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Project - North Carolina
In 1998, Duke Power and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission formed a partnership with several organizations to address the sediment problem in the Muddy Creek North Carolina watershed.

Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium
A consortium of federal agencies produced a comprehensive spatial database for user-specified mapping of 21 types of land cover anywhere in the U.S.

Nebraska City Citizens and Science Group - Missouri River Adaptive Management Pilot Project
The NCC&SG is working to identify, select and implement, through a collaborative and adaptive process, pilot projects and/or models to support river recovery and community revitalization.

Nebraska Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
Nebraska CREP is giving farmers and their partners the resources needed to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff into lakes and waterways.

Neuse River Basin Cleanup Exceeds Goals
In 1997, North Carolina adopted pollution controls in the basin. The Neuse agricultural community achieved a 42 percent nitrogen reduction, exceeding the 30 percent goal.

North Central Texas Water Quality
Develop watershed management plans for six reservoirs in the Trinity River Basin providing water for 1.6 million people.

Norwalk River Watershed Initiative
The Norwalk River Watershed Initiative is restoring the Norwalk watershed by improving water quality, habitat, and flood management through local decision making.

NRCS, State, Private, Tribal Partnership
Public-Private-NGO: to Restore Salmon Habitat in the Blue Mountains of the Pacific Northwest

Ohio Scioto River Basin Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Ohio Scioto River Basin CREP helps cost-share the creation of conservation buffers and wetlands on private farms to improve water quality.

Oklahoma Wildlife Alliance
Oklahoma Wildlife and Prairie Heritage Alliance (OWPHA) provides a trusted and open forum for private landowners to engage with resource managers and conservation programs.

Pacific Northwest Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Pacific Northwest CREP works with farmers to voluntarily establish and maintain long-term riparian buffers on agricultural lands to help protect critical salmon and trout habitat.

Partners Help Farmers Get Funds to Address Resource Concerns
Conservation partnership assisted coffee farmers to adopt new conservation technology in the Coffee Zone, Humid Upland Watersheds in Puerto Rico.

Partners in Restoration
The Partners In Restoration (PIR) Permit Coordination Program makes it easier for farmers and ranchers to restore and preserve the health of their property by easing the permitting burden.

Peach Resource Renewal Project
Conservation Innovation Grants are part of the 2002 Farm Bill and were established as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Platte River Habitat Partnership
The Partnership attempts to balance the economic needs of landowners and the ecological needs of wildlife and native grasslands.

Poso Creek Flood Plain Wetland Habitat Project
On the Poso Creek Flood Plain Wetland Habitat Project, partners are working together to restore and enhance wetlands in the Tulare Basin, site of California's largest historic freshwater wetland.

Powder River Conservation District, Flood Mitigation Efforts
Partners help town recover from flood and develop a flood prevention plan. Emergency watershed protection and PL-83-566 - small watershed protection.

Preserving and Protecting the Environment of New River
Our project and mission is to restore the New River to an ecological and economically sound river for public and commercial use.

Protecting Fish Habitat in SC
A powerful coalition of private citizens and federal, state, and local agencies, is restoring South Carolina's rare trout waters.

Restoration Project at Alamatong Wellfield in Morris County
Partners target removal of invasive Russian olive shrub on 600-acre wellfield, a primary water source for over 470,000 Morris County residents and habitat for a variety of birds and insects.

Restoring bog turtle habitat in New York
Federal, state, and NGO partners are working together with private landowners to restore the wetland habitat of the threatened bog turtle.

Restoring Farmland in Nevada
Conservation partners are working to find ways, both vegetative and non-vegetative, to permanently protect farmland soils from wind erosion after irrigation water is removed.

Restoring Shaded Coffee Plantations in Puerto Rico
Project provides incentives and assistance to coffee growers to return “sun” coffee plantations to shade, improving environment and wildlife habitat.

Revegetation Project at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
Study to evaluate cost-effective direct seeding techniques for restoring severely degraded site at former Coast Guard base into quality wildlife habitat along the Atlantic Flyway in New Jersey.

Rio Grande Basin Initiative
The Rio Grande Basin is a highly productive agricultural area, with irrigated agriculture claiming more than 85 percent of its water.

Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Protection Project
Using effective partnerships, we restored 5-acres of marsh, seagrass, oysters, and maritime forest, opening new doors of cooperation between agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Salt Cedar Brush Management
Texas Landowners with federal cost-share funds are eradicating Salt Cedar in sections of the Canadian River to increase flow and benefit listed fish species.

Saving Willamette Valley Species with CPR
The Cross Program Recovery Initiative (CPR) Initiative focuses on 11 listed and unlisted species where significant recovery is achievable over the next five years.

Scarborough Marsh Wetland Reserve Project
The 3,100-acre Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management area, Maine's largest and most renowned salt marsh, is being restored in a 5-phased project, eliminating restrictions of natural tidal flows.

Skaneateles Lake
The City of Syracuse established the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program (SLWAP) in 1994, as an alternative to a costly filtration system required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Southeastern New Mexico Working Group
Goal: To create a conservation strategy for the lesser prairie chicken and the sand dune lizard that will lessen the need for federal protection while allowing for ranching and oil & gas development.

Suwannee River Partnership
The Partnership is working with producers to improve river water quality through a voluntary program of Best Management Practices (BMP) and verification.

Upper Mississippi River Basin
New drainage water management systems in the Midwest are improving water quality and wildlife habitat in the Mississippi River Basin.

Upper Snake River Land Conservation Project
The combined efforts of BLM, local landowners, and conservation organizations has conserved more than 14,000 acres of private land along Idaho's upper Snake River.

USDA, NRCS Partners with U.S. Army in New Jersey
Fort Dix and USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service have partnered for eight years to protect water quality at an active military training base.

Utah Prairie Dog Recovery/Back From the Brink Program/Environmental Defense
This partnership's new approach has begun to show that private landowners will participate in the recovery of listed species, even controversial ones, given the right incentives.

Wetlands Partnership
Project converts agricultural land to public wetland and wildlife management area.

White Mountain Apache Tribe
The White Mountain Apache Tribe has created innovative strategies for balancing economic development and resource conservation.

Windbreak and Air Quality
Demonstration sites have been created in Pennsylvania to evaluate the effects of windbreaks on odors coming from poultry, dairy and swine operations.

Yainix Ranch Project
A working lands conservation easement and a conservation investment model supports sustainable approaches for ranch management and collaborative conservation solutions.