Conservation Planning

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) is the help NRCS and its partners provide to land users to address opportunities, concerns, and problems related to the use of natural resources and to help land users make sound natural resource management decisions on private, tribal, and other non-federal lands. The fundamentals of CTA delivery is based on the Conservation Planning process which is used to identify and evaluate resource concerns, analyze information, and recommended conservation practice alternatives to treat identified problems.

Competencies for Conservation Planning:

·  Module 1: How did we get here? History of Minnesota’s Conservation Efforts

·  Module 2: Conservation Planning Process

·  Module 3: The Watershed Concept

·  Module 4: Minnesota Resource Concerns and Land Uses

·  Module 5: Conservation Practice Standards

·  Module 6: Minnesota Conservation Practices

·  Module 7: Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG): A Primary Technical Reference

·  Module 8: Understanding Partnerships

Conservation Planning Module 1: How did we get here? History of Minnesota’s Conservation Efforts

Course Description: How did we get here? To get an understanding of present-day conservation on private lands, we’ll take a look back at the history of conservation efforts and how they evolved in Minnesota.


1.  Identify at least two significant/historic milestones of conservation delivery in Minnesota

2.  Identify historical events leading toward the need for locally led conservation 

3.  Understand the beginnings of conservation agencies

Conservation Planning Module 2: Conservation Planning Process

Course Description: This course emphasizes the conservation planning process; developing quality, complete plans on the entire unit; consideration of ecological, economic, and social concerns; on-site assistance; the effects and impacts of planned actions on-site and off-site; and partnership involvement. It will introduce the general framework for conservation planning including general planning concepts, definition of a conservation plan, national and state planning directives, and responsibilities of a conservation planner.


1.  Describe the importance of the planning process and responsibilities of the conservation planner

2.  Identify the framework of the nine-step planning process

3.  Locate references, technologies, and tools that provide additional information regarding the planning process and policies

Conservation Planning Module 3: The Watershed Concept

Course Description: This course will provide a general overview of what defines a watershed, why it’s important, and how to determine what watersheds are in your service area.


1.  Describe what a watershed is

2.  Distinguish the difference between major, minor and sub-watersheds

3.  Identify which major watersheds are part of your work area

4.  List three reasons why it’s important to understand watersheds when planning and implementing conservation practices

Conservation Planning Module 4: Minnesota Resource Concerns and Land Uses

Course Description: This course will provide an overview of resource concerns and land uses, including the impact on the environment and common actions used to address the concerns. The course will cover land use practices used for conservation planning with a focus on resource concerns and land uses common to Minnesota.


1.  Understand how resource concerns are identified and properly documented during the planning process

2.  Describe the most common resource concerns in Minnesota

3.  List two to three common resource concerns in your area

4.  Interpret the land use definitions and how they are used in planning

5.  Understand the identification of land uses and applicable land use modifiers

Conservation Planning Module 5:  Conservation Practice Standards

Course Description: This course will discuss the development of practice standards and the components of a conservation practice standard to include: Name, Definition, Purpose, Conditions, Criteria, Considerations, Minimum Requirements, Operation and Maintenance and References. Conservation Practice Standards ensure quality, consistency, assure environmental compliance, and serve as repository for knowledge and experience that can be brought forward to new employees.


1.  Explain the purpose of the practice standards

2.  Recognize the components of a conservation practice standard

3.  Clarify the purpose of each section of the practice standards

4.  Understand the difference between criteria and considerations of practice standards

5.  Know where to find practice standards

Conservation Planning Module 6: Minnesota Conservation Practices

Course Description: This course will look at evaluating and choosing conservation practices that will treat specific resource concerns and discuss common ecological sciences (ECS) and common engineering (ENG) practices across Minnesota. 


1.  Prepare a list of conservation practices that address a specific resource concern on a specific land use

2.  Evaluate the list of conservation practices for a specific site

3.  Recognize statewide and regionally common Ecological Sciences (ECS) practices and Engineering (ENG) practices in Minnesota

4.  Distinguish between the definitions and purposes of these common practices

Conservation Planning Module 7: Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG): A Primary Technical Reference

Course Description: This course will provide the foundation to plan and apply conservation practices to on-the-ground situations utilizing the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). It will cover the history of the FOTG, the organization and navigation, in addition to the relationship between the guide and the nine steps of planning.  The dynamic nature of the FOTG and the process of providing input into the FOTG will also be discussed. 


1.  Describe the history and evolution of the FOTG and its scientific nature

2.  Review the organization of the FOTG and where to find information

3.  Access the FOTG online

4.  Describe the relationship between the NRCS planning process and the FOTG

5.  Explain the process to make changes to and incorporate technology into the FOTG

Conservation Planning Module 8: Understanding Partnerships

Course Description: This course will provide an overview of the many layers of federal, state, and local conservation partnerships within Minnesota and the various roles of each group.   In addition, the process of developing partnerships as well as key elements for successful collaborative partnerships will be briefly introduced. 


1.  Describe different partnerships of at least one Federal, State and Local partner within Minnesota

2.  Recognize the roles different organizations may have in a conservation partnership

3.  Put the elements of successful collaborative partnerships into practice for your organization