Financial Incentive Programs
Forest and agroforestry practices provide important public conservation and economic benefits to the people of Kansas. For this reason, and because tree planting, forest stand improvement and windbreak renovation projects can be expensive, there are a variety of government conservation programs to help cover the cost of implementing forestry and agroforestry practices. Kansas Forest Service foresters can help landowners determine eligibility, application procedures, and prepare plans to help implement projects. The programs listed below are in no way a complete list, however, they do represent some of the most common programs used to implement forestry practices in Kansas.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program for Forestland Health
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Forestland Health is the most popular financial assistance program in Kansas and covers the majority of expenses to implement forestry projects. EQIP is administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and is available state-wide. Public land is not eligible for the program.
Forestland, windbreaks, cropland and grassland all have the potential to qualify for the program if a “resource concern” is identified by a Kansas Forest Service forester. Primary resource concerns for the program are the health and condition of trees in windbreaks and forests, soil erosion of streambanks, and water quality issues associated with excessive sediment. Specific examples of resource concerns may include:
- Old windbreaks with gaps and dead trees or shrubs.
- Streambank erosion where additional tree planting can provide long-term reduction in soil loss.
- Forests or woodlands that are overcrowded with trees (need thinning) or would benefit from additional tree planting; or contain a high percentage of invasive or undesirable trees and shrubs.
Eligible NRCS Conservation practices include:
- 666 Forest Stand Improvement
- 650 Windbreak/Shelterbelt Renovation
- 380 Windbreak/ Shelterbelt Establishment
- 391 Riparian Forest Buffer Establishment
- 612 Tree/Shrub Establishment
- 490 Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
- 315 Herbaceous Weed Control
- 484 Mulching
- 441 Irrigation System, Micro-irrigation
- 382 Fence
- 660 Tree/Shrub Pruning
How to Apply for EQIP
Landowners may apply at any time at their local USDA Service Center, NRCS Office. Once an application is received NRCS will contact a Kansas Forest Service forester who will schedule a visit to the applicant’s property. The forester will determine if a “resource concern” exists and prepare a plan based on the landowner’s objectives. To facilitate the process, some landowners may wish to contact their local forester or complete an EQIP Self-Assessment Worksheet before applying which may improve the application’s ranking. The application cut off period for the general EQIP sign up is generaly in mid-November. EQIP for Forestland Health is a continuous program and landowners are encouraged to apply long before the cut off period as possible to ensure timely processing of applications and plans.
Following the cut off period, applications are ranked in priority based on a variety of factors and funded until the annual allocation is exhausted. Landowners are generally informed by April if their application has been approved. Any project expenses an applicant incurs prior to practice approval will not be reimbursed. EQIP contacts generally run from 1 to 3 years.
Implementing EQIP Projects
Tree planting, forest stand improvement and windbreak renovation are time-consuming, labor intensive projects that can easily overwhelm landowners. Because of the extra time and workload required to implement forestry practices, and the expertise necessary for making them successful, the Kansas Forest Service encourages landowners to consider hiring a forestry contractor to assist with projects. The majority of expenses for the services of forestry contractors are covered through EQIP.
Conservation Reserve Program
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is administered by the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation through Farm Service Agency (FSA) and provides land rental, incentive and cost-share payments to establish forestry and other conservation practices. CRP provides more financial benefits to landowners than most other USDA conservation programs. Contracts may run from 10 to 15 years. To be eligible landowners must own their land for at least one year. The land must also have been planted to an agricultural crop (commodity) at least two of the previous 5 crop years. There are two forms of CRP, General Sign Up, and Continuous. General Sign Up CRP occurs periodically and applicants may only apply during a specified time period. Landowners interested in the next General Sign Up should check with their local Farm Service Center for potential dates. Most CRP forestry practices in Kansas occur through Continuous CRP. Interested landowners may apply anytime at their local USDA Farm Service Center, FSA Office. Continuous CRP tends to focus on conservation practices that establish vegetative buffers like windbreaks and riparian forest buffers. Kansas Forest Service foresters are available to assist landowners interested in enrolling in CRP.
Continuous CRP Forestry/Agroforestry Practices
- CP5A – Field Windbreak
- Trees planted on highly erodible cropland for the primary function of reducing windblown soil and providing wildlife habitat.
- CP16A – Shelterbelts
- Trees planted for the purpose of providing protection to farmsteads or livestock operations.
- CP17A – Living Snow Fences
- Trees planted adjacent to highways and roads to reduce snow accumulation.
- CP22 – Riparian Forest Buffers
- Trees and grass planted adjacent to streams and rivers to filter runoff for the purpose of improving water quality.
- CP-31 – Bottomland Timber Establishment
- Trees planted in flood plains adjacent to perennial streams to provide wildlife habitat and other benefits.
General Sign Up CRP Forestry Practices
- CP 3A – Hardwood Tree Planting
- Trees planted to enhance environmental benefits especially related to soil erosion.
- CP-11 – Vegetative Cover – Trees Already Established
- Land already established to trees that is under CRP-1at the time the acreage is offered and the producer elects to re-offer the acreage devoted to trees.
State Water Resources Cost-Share Program
Administered by the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s (KDA), Division of Conservation (DOC), through County Conservation Districts, the State Water Resources Cost-Share Program provides landowners cost-share assistance to establish or renovate windbreaks primarily in western Kansas. Available funding and eligible projects vary between counties dependent on County Conservation District Boards. Interested landowners should check with their County Conservation District Manager regarding available funding located at their local USDA Farm Service Center, NRCS Office.
Buffer Cost Calculator
This quick and easy tool is meant to help landowners understand the costs of planting a new riparian forest buffer. This tool is provided for general reference only. Incentive payments and annual rental payments can vary greatly according to project location. Visit your local USDA service center for specific program information and cost-share opportunities.