The Kishwaukee River Watershed in northern Illinois has been selected as one of the nationâ€™s 18 priority watersheds for fiscal year 2004 Conservation Security Program (CSP) sign-up to be held this summer, according to the USDAâ€™s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The Kishwaukee watershed includes Kane, McHenry, Boone, DeKalb, Lee, Winnebago, Rockford, and Ogle counties in Illinois â€”more than 780,000 acres total. It also includes a small portion of southern Wisconsin. Illinois NRCS officials will work with NRCS specialists in the Wisconsin portion of the Kishwaukee Watershed to ensure a smooth CSP operation.
Nationally, the 2004 CSP budget of $41.4 million will allow NRCS to write 3,000 to 5,000 contracts in the 2004 sign-up.
"The selection of the Kishwaukee Watershed in this first sign-up represents a balance of resource needs, historic stewardship, potential producer eligibility, and the technology and adequate staff needed to successfully implement the program," says NRCS State Conservationist William Gradle. "A sign-up announcement will be published along with the interim final rule that will detail the specific program requirements within the priority watersheds."
The NRCS's newest conservation program looks to implement $13.4 billion (an estimated 90,000 contracts) over seven years. All CSP applications that meet sign-up criteria will be placed in an enrollment category regardless of available funding. The categories will consider the applicants' current stewardship and producers' willingness to perform additional conservation activities during the CSP contract. All landowners are encouraged to act now to make their own operations more competitive for later signups.
A workbook to guide landowners through this process will be available soon on the Web and at local USDA Service Centers. For more information, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp.