PES - Colorado Water Conservation Board Grant

San Miguel County highly values our agrarian community including ranchers, farmers and other agricultural producers and we recognize that they are at the front lines of today's severe drought conditions. The PES Program was launched because we want to compensate them for drought resilience and other soil health improvement projects (practices) they implement on their land, which ultimately will help us all as we seek additional ways to improve soil health and mitigate climate change.  These practices generally provide benefits to the broader population in San Miguel County, including: water quality control, soil-water retention, air quality improvements and carbon sequestration.

San Miguel County received a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to expand its existing Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program to develop an informed, innovative approach to engage agricultural producers and large landowners to voluntarily implement beneficial practices for long-term water conservation, improved soil health benefits and other ecosystem service goals.  The grant totals $34,646. With the County matching at $34,646. ($69,293. total).  

Based on the funding provided in the CWCB grant, San Miguel County is establishing a pilot program for 2021 and is looking for up to six partners to participate in this program.  

  1. Landowner partners will self-identify land management practices and agree to implement the practices described by the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) from the below list.
  2. Landowners and San Miguel County will agree to the terms of participation and an inspection schedule for verification of practice implementation.  
  3. San Miguel County will make payments to participating landowners for the implementation of the agreed to land management practices.  
  4. The payment fee schedule is established by NRCS, but the contract will be between landowners and San Miguel County. 
  5. San Miguel County will make payments at 1.5 times the rate paid on the NRCS/EQIP payment schedule.

Participation will not require contracts with NRCS or USDA - only San Miguel County.

Participation will require a USDA farm ID number.

A general list of specific practices approved for San Miguel County by NRCS includes:

  • Practices List for San Miguel County (NRCS practice number)
    • Cover Crops (340)
    • Intensive Till to No-till or Strip Till (888)
    • Improved N Fertilizer Management (590)
    • Replacement of Synthetic N Fertilizer (590)
    • Residue and Tillage Management (329 & 345)
    • Conservation Cover - cropland conversion (327)
    • Contour Buffer Strips - convert strips of cropland (332)
    • Field Border - convert strips of cropland (386)
    • Filter Strip - convert strips of cropland (393)
    • Forage and Biomass Planting - convert cropland to grass/legume/biomass (512)
    • Grassed Waterway - convert cropland to permanent grass/legume cover (412)
    • Herbaceous Wind Barriers - convert strips of cropland (603)
    • Riparian Herbaceous Cover (390)
    • Vegetative Barriers (601)
    • Multiple Practices (888) - Grazing management plan with replacement N fertilizer
    • Nutrient Management (590) - replace N fertilizer
    • Prescribed Grazing (528) - grazing management plan to improve pasture condition
    • Range Planting (550) - seeding forages
    • Silvopasture (381) - tree/shrub planting on grazed grasslands
    • Critical Area Planting (342) - restore highly disturbed areas
    • Riparian Restoration (555)
    • Riparian Forest Buffer (391)
    • Tree/Shrub establishment (612) - convert cropland/grassland to woodlot
    • Windbreak/Shelterbelt (380 & 650) - establishment or renovate existing

Thank you for taking the time to review this documentation and please contact the CWCB grant project administrator, Chris Hazen of The Terra Firm (970-708-1221), with questions or to schedule a meeting to identify partnership opportunities.