Conservation Stewardship Program

Among the many challenges the state of Illinois faces in its effort to manage its natural resources is preserving and enhancing biological resources in a landscape that is more than 90% privately owned. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is designed to encourage landowners to manage their land in order to protect Illinois’ limited environmental resources. Landowners who have at least five acres of unimproved land and are willing to commit to developing and implementing a habitat management plan for their property may apply for CSP in exchange for reduced valuation of property taxes.

CSP priorities are to: promote the restoration of native species; reduce the impacts of invasive species; protect, restore, and enhance species in greatest need of conservation; and reduce forest fragmentation in Illinois.

View the Publication 135 (PDF).

By enrolling into the CSP, the landowner is agreeing to conduct management on their property for native species in return for a lower tax valuation on the acres enrolled in the program. The landowner is required to complete the management activities lined out in the plan in order to stay eligible for the program.
The CSP was developed for ground that may be classified as recreational land. If the valuation of the property is currently valued at farmland tax rate, it does not benefit you to enroll into the CSP. The valuation for recreational land is 33.3% of Fair Market Value (FMV). By obtaining a certified and approved CSP management plan, the valuation of the property is reduced to 5% of FMV. IDNR CSP personnel ensure that all management plans will meet the goals of the landowner and the goals of the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.

The taxes saved on the property are the basis for conducting the habitat management on your property. Landowners are required to work to complete their outlined management objectives for the property. Landowners are responsible for carrying out management regardless of any type of state or federal habitat management assistance available or lack thereof. CSP does not have habitat management funds available. Please see management techniques used on CSP properties to promote native species.

Land eligible for enrollment includes:
  • Five or more contiguous acres of unimproved land - unimproved land means woodlands, prairie, wetlands or other vacant and undeveloped land that is not used for any residential or commercial purpose that materially disturbs the land.
  • Land in a Forestry Development Program Plan (also known as a Forest Stewardship Plan) under Section 10-150 of the Property Tax Code. (Be aware that switching from FDA to CSP will increase your taxes. The same acre cannot be enrolled in both programs.)
  • Land registered or encumbered by conservation rights under Section 10-166 of the Property Tax Code
Land not eligible for enrollment includes:
  • Any land in Cook County
  • Land assessed as farmland under Sections 10-110 through 10-145 of the Property Tax Code and any land used for agricultural purposes
  • Land valued under Section 10-152 (vegetated filter strips) or 10-153 (non clear-cut along navigable waters) of the Property Tax Code
  • Land valued as open space under Section 10-155 of the Property Tax Code
  • Land certified under Section 10-167 of the Property Tax Code
  • Any property dedicated as a nature preserve or nature preserve buffer under the Natural Areas Preservation Act - the assessed value of dedicated nature preserves and buffer is one dollar per acre for the calculation of property taxes
For more information, and details on how to enroll, please visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website.