University of Maryland Extension

Stewardship Planning - Cost Share Assistance

"Cost share benefitsThere are a number of federal and state programs available that will help defray a significant portion of the cost to implement forest practices. This section provides an overview of the different types of cost-share programs available as well as how they are implemented.

Most cost-share programs are implemented in a similar fashion. Eligible landowners can apply for specific practices through their local forester. The actual application may go through the Maryland Forest Service or the Farm Services Agency, depending on the program. If the practice is approved, landowners complete the practices and pay for the goods and/or services. The local forester will then inspect the practice to ensure proper implementation. Upon approval by the forester, copies of the invoices and payment information are submitted to the forester for processing. The landowner will then receive reimbursement for the percentage of the costs involved in the particular program.

The links below list some of the state and federal programs available. A good place to start is with your county's state forester. Please consult the Department of Natural Resources Forest Service web site or the Maryland Environmental Trust's "Conservation Easement Overview"
for more information.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) - Created by the 1985 Farm Bill, the Conservation Reserve Program is designed to protect highly erodible and environmentally sensitive lands with grass, trees, or other long-term cover. The major goals of CRP are to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, improve water quality, maintain fish and wildlife habitat, and provide income support to farmers. This program offers a 50% cost-share to establish trees or other cover crops, as well as annual rent payments for 10 to 15 years while the practice is being maintained. Additional cost-share payments may be available depending upon the state and the practices (for example, restoring wetlands or planting hardwood trees). The land must be located in a CRP Conservation priority area and be devoted to beneficial environmental practices, or be expiring CRP acreage. Applications are ranked according to an Environmental Benefits Index.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) - The purpose of the CREP program is to conserve soils, protect wildlife habitat, and protect the quality of surface and subsurface waters by planting vegetated filter strips or forested riparian buffers along streams, sinkholes, groundwater recharge areas, wetlands, and other permanent water bodies. CREP funds may also be applied toward recreating previously-converted wetlands and farmed wetland,s and toward retiring highly-erodible lands within 1000 feet of water bodies. This program offers a 50% cost-share to establish vegetative cover, as well as annual rent payments while the practice is being maintained. The Maryland Agricultural Cost-Share (MACS) Program will provide an additional 37.5% cost-share, for a total of 87.5%. Various other bonus payments may apply. Payment for establishing forested riparian buffers includes the soil rental rate plus $200/ac for the first 50 feet and $50/ac for 51-100 feet of buffer: for grass buffers, the soil rental rate plus $150/ac for the first 50 feet and $50/ac for 51-100 feet of buffer; for wetland restoration and conservation cover on highly erodible land, the soil rental rate plus $50/ac. The costs of fencing to exclude livestock and alternative watering sources are also eligible if needed. Landowners have the option of selling a permanent easement to the state of Maryland.

Conservation Security Program (CSP). CSP, part of the 2002 Farm Bill, was a voluntary program to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers in order to promote conservation and improvement of soil erosion and water quality concerns on a watershed level. This program addressed improvements to soil, air, water, energy, plant, and animal life on cropland, grasslands, pasture, and forest land that is an incidental part of an agriculture operation. The program was not re-authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill and new applications are no longer accepted; previous recipients can go here for an online archive of information and here for a similar program called the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) - EQIP was re-authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill to target locally identified priority areas where there are significant natural resource concerns. Typically 50-60% of the funds are targeted to livestock operations with the remainder targeting other conservation priorities. EQIP offers financial, educational, and technical assistance to install practices. Fifty percent cost sharing is available for certain forestry conservation practices.

Landowner Incentive Program - A program of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this voluntary grant program establishes partnerships between federal and state governments and private landowners. The goal of the program is to provide cost-share assistance to private landowners to protect, enhance and restore habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife - This program offers technical and financial assistance to landowners who are interested in restoring drained or degraded wetlands, riparian forests, grasslands and other important wildlife habitats. U.S. Fish & Wildlife will assist in locating other funds to bring a project to fruition.

Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) - WRP is a voluntary program to restore wetlands on private property to provide habitat for fish and wildlife; to protect and improve water quality; reduce flooding; protect biological diversity; and furnish scientific, recreational, and aesthetic benefits. WRP allows landowners to sell either permanent or short-term easements to the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for wetland areas and to receive cost-share funds to restore altered wetlands to their natural condition. The landowner continues to control access to the land and may lease lands for undeveloped recreational activities. Other uses of the land are allowed if they are consistent with protection of the wetland.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) - WHIP is a voluntary program designed to help landowners improve fish and wildlife habitat on private lands. Funds are available for developing habitat for upland wildlife, wetland wildlife, endangered species, fisheries, and other wildlife. In Maryland, priorities are to restore and manage upland grassland habitats and riparian corridors. The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical assistance and up to 75% of the cost of installing practices. Generally, agreements are 5 to 10 years but greater cost share is available for 15 year agreements targeting essential plant and animal habitat. Cooperating states and private agencies may provide additional expertise and/or funding.

Woodland Incentive Program (WIP) - Developed in 1986 by the State of Maryland, WIP provides non-industrial private forest owners with financial assistance (up to 50% of the total cost) for tree planting, timber stand improvement, and other forest management and protection activities. The goal of WIP is to enhance the environmental, aesthetic, and wildlife benefits provided by private woodlands, while providing the forest resources essential to commerce and industry in the state.

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