Over the last few decades, conservation of our natural resources has become more popular. Even the most cynical people are beginning to accept that human activity is having at least some impact on the planet.
The government program over the last few decades that most encouraged natural resource conservation in rural areas has been the Conservation Reserve Program. The CRP is administered by the USDA.
Land enrolled in CRP or similar government programs results in government payments in exchange for landowners agreeing to not commercial farm or develop specific land.