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Landscape Initiatives

landscape initiatives banner split three ways: water quality, at  risk species, ecosystem initiative



NRCS uses landscape conservation initiatives to accelerate the results that can be achieved through voluntary conservation programs.  All NRCS programs are designed to support farmers, ranchers, and foresters in improving the environment while maintaining or improving a vibrant agricultural sector.  Most program delivery is driven primarily by grassroots input and local needs.  Landscape conservation initiatives enhance the locally driven process to better address nationally and regionally important conservation goals that transcend localities. 

Examples of these goals include improving water quality in the Great Lakes (8 states), reducing the decline of the Ogallala Aquifer (8 states), and enhancing the habitat of keystone species like the greater sage grouse (11 states). Through landscape conservation initiatives, NRCS and its partners coordinate the delivery of assistance where it can have the most impact in these broad ranges.

Since establishing the initiatives under the 2008 Farm Bill, NRCS has used successes and lessons learned to enhance the delivery of landscape conservation initiatives. With tools like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the 2014 Farm Bill further emphasizes the focus on building effective partnerships and obtaining meaningful results for key natural resource concerns. With the support of new and revised Farm Bill programs, NRCS will continue to work with partners to improve outcomes through landscape conservation initiatives.

  •  Conservation beyond boundaries—Landscape-scale natural resource concerns, such as species conservation and water quality, are most effectively addressed beyond geo-political boundaries. NRCS recognizes that natural resource concerns transcend farm, county, and state boundaries.
  • A science-based approach —Findings from the multi-agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) indicate the most effective way to increase protection of natural resources is to target conservation to the most vulnerable or valuable areas and for agricultural producers to implement conservation practices as a system rather than by a practice-by-practice approach. Within individual initiatives, the best available university and government science resources are used to define targeting approaches.
  • Build on existing locally-led efforts and partnerships — NRCS seeks to maximize the success of initiatives by leveraging partner interest and resources through programs and other tools.
  • Regulatory certainty for agricultural producers —  Where applicable, NRCS is working with regulators so agricultural producers can have predictability and certainty that the voluntary conservation systems or practices they implement are consistent with current and potential regulation, as well as sustained agricultural production.


Water Quality and
Quantity–Based Initiatives

Priority Wildlife Species Initiatives

Ecosystem Based Initiative

Bay Delta Initiative

State: California

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative

States: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

Longleaf Pine Initiative 

States: Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative

States: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia

Sage Grouse Initiative 

States: California, Colorado,  Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon,  South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming


Driftless Area Landscape
Conservation Initiative

States: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Working Lands for Wildlife Partnership

States: Nationwide


Everglades Initiative

State: Florida


Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 

States:  Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin


Gulf of Mexico Initiative 

States: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas


Illinois River / Eucha-Spavinaw Watershed Initiative

States: Arkansas, Oklahoma


Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative

States: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin


National Water Quality Initiative 

States:  50 States, the Caribbean Basin and Pacific Basin


Ogallala Aquifer Initiative

States: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming


Red River Basin Initiative 

States: Minnesota, North Dakota,
South Dakota


Technical Resources

Thumbnail of 2015 Landscape Initiative Map

Click on the map to download a full-size version (PDF, 2MB)

Legacy Initiatives

Note: Although the following initiatives are no longer funded at the national NRCS level, states will continue to offer general program funds, and may offer targeted funds, to address resource issues identified under these legacy initiatives.

Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative provides food, water and critical habitat for bird populations, supports local economies by attracting hunters and bird watchers, and expands opportunities for improved wildlife management.

States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas

Northern Plains Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative enhances migratory bird habitat, improves water quality and the health of grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region.

States: Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota

New England-New York Forestry Initiative keeps forests as forests that provide clean drinking water, support rural economies and protect wildlife habitat.

Special Projects

Prairie Pothole Wetland and Grassland Retention Project (PPR) offers financial and technical assistance opportunities that can reduce the conversion rate of grasslands and wetlands.

For more Information

Rich Torpin
(402) 437-4061