Cost-Share Programs Available for Private Landowners in Iowa

Programs are available to provide cost-share reimbursement to private landowners who are engaged in forestry related conservation work. Practices such as tree planting, forested riparian buffers, forest stand improvement, site preparation for natural regeneration, wildlife habitat improvement, and fencing may be eligible for cost-sharing on private lands. The programs listed below may be able to assist you with conservation work on your lands. To determine which program may best suit your needs, contact your Iowa DNR District Forester.

Tree planting, forest stand improvement, site preparation for natural regeneration and rescue treatment standards may be accessed through the Iowa DNR forestry technical guide

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

The Conservation Reserve Program is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). It cost-shares tree planting on highly erodible land, row crop and pasture, through the general and continuous CRP.  All CRP programs will pay a landowner an annual rental payment for up to 15 years. For more information contact your county FSA office

Tree Planting (CP-3) and Hardwood Tree Planting (CP-3A) practices are a great way to increase the tree cover in many different locations around the state. The CP-3 allows a mixture of soft and hardwood trees while the CP-3A is primarily hardwood trees. 

The Bottomland Timber Establishment (CP31) practice allows landowners to enroll all or part of bottomland fields in the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Planting hardwood trees and shrubs on land prone to flooding is an excellent way to control sheet, rill, scour and other erosion. It improves air and water quality, provides wildlife habitat, sequesters carbon, and provides forest products for future generations. Bottomland hardwood plantings provide immediate financial benefits over the 15 year life of the CRP contract through an annual rental payment. Bottomland timber also acts as a living retirement account that gains value year after year and can be cashed in around 50 years following planting. 

Forested riparian buffer strips of perennial vegetation contribute to sustainable agriculture by reducing soil loss, improving water quality, and stabilizing stream banks. Buffer strips of trees and shrubs improve aesthetics and wildlife habitat. Forested buffer strips also make good financial sense if they are installed through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The forested riparian buffer (CP22) practice allows landowners to maximize the number of acres that they can enroll in the continuous CRP. In fact choosing the forested riparian buffer will allow one-third more area to eligible for the program's 15 year rental payment.

CRP Success Stories

The Conservation Reserve Program the most successful tree planting and reforestation program in the history. In Iowa that success is primarily a function of the people who participate in the program and take pride in their conservation accomplishments. Here are a few of their stories.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

The EQIP program is administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). EQIP legislation in the Farm Bill clearly states the "private, nonindustrial forest land" is eligible for EQIP funding and can provide funding for many forestry related activities. For additional information check out EQIP on the NRCS website.

Resource Enhancement And Protection Program (REAP)

REAP is a state cost share program administered through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. REAP provides cost share assistance for timber stand improvement (woodland thinning), tree planting, site preparation for natural regeneration, and tree planting rescue treatments. The minimum project acreage size is 5 acres for timber stand improvement and 3 acres for tree planting. Visit a USDA service center or contact your district Forester for more information. 

Iowa Wildlife Habitat

The Iowa DNR Wildlife Bureau offers cost-share assistance on private lands. Visit the DNR wildlife page for more information. 

Iowa's forests provide exceptional habitat for a wide range of wildlife species including deer, turkey, bobcats, quail, pheasants, raccoons, possums, herons, migrant neo-tropical songbirds (Baltimore orioles, dickcissels, warblers, and hawks, to name just a few), grouse rattlesnakes, and innumerable other species. Creation of new forest habitat is critically important to Iowa's wildlife population. However, many private landowners fail to realize that with management they could improve their existing forest habitat. 

Wildlife have basic requirements for survival that you should keep in mind when developing your habitat: food, water, cover and space. Every species of wildlife has its own requirements, these often vary with age and season. When these requirements are in good supply, they contribute to the well being of wildlife. If any habitat requirements are in short supply, it limits the number and distribution of wildlife and is called a limiting factor.

For on-site assistance contact your District Forester or visit the DNR wildlife page with more information and check out Tips for Managing Forests for Wildlife.

The pure enjoyment of having an abundance of wildlife on your land is one big reason for wildlife cover plantings. Not as well known perhaps, are the benefits gained by the landowner who encourages the presence of wildlife on his/her property. When a sod and shrub fence row are compared on a per mile basis, the following are found:


Beneficial Beetles

Crop Damaging Insects Nesting Birds Damaging Small Animals Beneficial Small Animals
Sod Fence Row 500 79,000 2 84 8
Shrub Fence Row 200,000 54,000 21 21 28