Conservation Programs Division
Oklahoma's State-Funded Conservation Cost-Share Program
(Note: Conservation Districts, please see the bottom of this page to access the program handbook.)
The Conservation Program Division administers the Conservation Cost-Share Program. Funds are allocated to conservation districts based upon appropriations from the Oklahoma Legislature, and the Conservation Programs Division provides training, administrative support, and guidance to districts in carrying out the program.
The Cost-Share Program provides financial assistance to landowners to apply soil and water conservation practices. The purpose of the program is to help improve water quality and control soil erosion in the state.
Conservation districts administer the program to meet their local needs. The districts select practices from a state list to offer to landowners, establish cost-share rates, set signup periods, establish application ranking procedures, take applications, and assist landowners complete paperwork for payment. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides free technical assistance for the conservation practices to landowners.
Eligibility for Program
There are some restrictions in the program such as size of land tracts eligible. Funds cannot be allocated to land tracts of less than twenty acres with less than $1,000 of soil-dependent products sold annually.
How Landowners are Selected for Participation in the Program
After signup periods, each application is carefully reviewed to ensure eligibility. Applications are ranked according to a system developed by the conservation district. The ranking system ensures fairness to landowners and ensures cost-share funds are used to meet conservation priorities. Landowners approved for the program are notified of the practice(s) approved and the amount of cost-share funds that will be provided.
Practices Vary Across the State
Practices often vary among counties. Conservation districts seek input from landowners, other agencies, and organizations in deciding which practices to recommend for the state list of available practices each year and which practices are most needed locally.
Only approved practices on the local conservation district list are eligible for cost-share assistance, and landowners must file an application during a specific signup period to be eligible for the program. Landowners are required to have or to request a conservation plan on the land where the practice will be applied. NRCS will assist with development of conservation plans. The application and the practice must be approved and a performance agreement must be signed by both the district and the applicant before any installation work begins in order to qualify for payment.
Examples of conservation practices that may be available for cost share under the program are ponds, grass planting, grassed waterways, terraces, water diversions, field borders and buffer strips.
Conservation Practices Must Meet Standards
Conservation practices must be carried out according to specifications provided by NRCS. This ensures practices such as ponds, terraces, diversions, and other structural practices are constructed properly and function as designed. It will also mean practices like grass planting will have the best chance to be successful.
Payment for Cost-Share Practices
After a conservation practice is completed, participants must notify the conservation district office. The district's technical representative will inspect and certify that the practice was completed according to specifications. Landowners are responsible for payment to contractors, fertilizer dealers, and others who provide equipment, services or materials for the practice. Receipts for such services and materials are provided to the conservation district upon completion of the practice, and the conservation district helps the landowner apply for payment.
Participants will receive payment through the local conservation district after approval by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
History of the Program
The Oklahoma Legislature established the Conservation Cost-Share Program in 1998 and designated the Oklahoma Conservation Commission to administer the program. On August 7, 1998, OCC enacted emergency rules and guidelines for the new program, signed by Governor Frank Keating on August 12, 1998, making the program operational.
Cost-Share Program Reports
Listed below are electronic versions of Conservation Cost-Share Program reports available in Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) format.
Locally-Led Conservation Cost Share Program Handbook
CONSERVATION DISTRICTS: Click here for the the Locally-Led Conservation Cost Share Program Handbook