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In four years, America's landowners have enrolled 50 million acres in U.S. Department of Agriculture program that helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners take added conservation measures.

In Utah, private landowners have enrolled 498,224 acres in the past three years.

The federal Conservation Stewardship Program is aimed at producers who already are established land stewards, helping them to deliver multiple conservation benefits on working lands, including improved water and soil quality, and enhanced wildlife habitat, according to federal officials.

Enrolled land covers more than 78,000 square miles, an area larger than Pennsylvania and South Carolina combined, making it one of the top federal programs for private lands offered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"The program allows our conservation-minded farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to go that extra mile in conserving natural resources," said Dave Brown, a conservationist for the service in Utah. "This program leads to cleaner air and water, enhanced wildlife habitat and healthier soil, among many other benefits."

Eric Esplin of Esplin Livestock in Kane County has been an advocate of soil and water conservation work for many years.

"This program has given me the opportunity and financial resources to revisit some of the practices we applied in earlier years and find ways to improve and maintain them so that our conservation investments will last years longer and do more good on the land," said Esplin.

Eligible landowners and operators in all states and territories may enroll.

For more information, visit —

For program information

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