SALT LAKE CITY — Ranchers, farmers and owners of private Forest Service land are among those who can apply for payments that recognize the practice of good stewardship over the land.

Authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, the Conservations Stewardship program is a voluntary incentive to maintain good stewardship and encourage expansion of conservation practices.

Applications will be scored, ranked and funded after the June 25 enrollment deadline.

The program pays participants for conservation performance — the higher the performance, the higher the payment. Producers get credit both for conservation measures they have already implemented and for new measures they agree to add.

The program is available to all producers regardless of operation size, crops produced or geographic location. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.

Potential applicants are encouraged to use the program's self-screening checklist to determine whether it is suitable for their operation. The checklist — which highlights basic information about eligibility requirements, contract obligations and payments — and additional information may be obtained at

— Amy Joi O'Donoghue