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Alaska State Technical Committee Meeting Notes Oct 2010

Alaska State Technical Committee Meeting Notes

October, 2010
Notes

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
State Technical Committee Meeting

October 28, 2010
USDA Conference Room, Palmer, Alaska

Welcome and Introductions, Scott Crockett
Explanation of State Technical Committee purpose
Introductions around room

Opening Remarks, Bob Jones
Introduction of Helen Denniston as new State Resource Conservationist

Announcement of  high tunnel success

Explanation that USDA NRCS is currently under continuing resolution for the budget and the expectation of funding to be similar as 2010

Review of 2010 Farm Bill Programs, Al White

See Presentation

Overview of 2011 Farm Bill Program Applications

EQIP -- All allocations plus regional equity, plus high priority underserved participant (extra funding) was used 

WHIP –All regional equity plus additional funding from HDQ was used
 

Backlog of applications from 2010 rolled into 2011 if applicant desires.  Currently in EQIP there are 202 more applications of $14 mil known requested.  Many of the 202 applications are without cost estimates

Discussion

Tom Harris -  Asked how can the rural communities use NRCS to improve wildlife?

Al White – Wildlife improvement would be addressed through a “habitat priority”. ADFG and USFWS can give input to what is a habitat priority.

Tom Harris – Recommended a subcommittee to prioritize wildlife, explains that

salmon habitat and health of streams is of concern, and those issues could be discussed in such a subcommittee.

Al White – Explained that salmon habitat could be addressed through EQIP but is mostly covered under WHIP.

Presentation Continued
Subsistence clarification: 2008 Farm Bill clarifies in more detail that subsistence can be considered as agriculture for the purposes of the Farm Bill programs.

Fencing clarification:  2008 Farm Bill clarifies in more detail that exterior fences are not eligible for program contracts.

Discussion

Tom Harris – Asked what the difference is between a cross fence and how does it differ from exterior fences / boundary fences

Al White – Explains interior fences are used for grazing management and exterior fences are often used for property declaration.  Al notes that this is not a new change just a better clarification.

Eric Johnsen – Asked what is the process to make perimeter fencing and wells eligible? 

Al White – Explained the next time for influencing eligibilityof practices will be in the development process of the of the next farm bill.  Al noted:  wells for animals are still eligible, wells for irrigation are not.

Presentation Continued

National priorities are designated by HDQ, where as Alaska priorities as designated by the State Conservationist and with input from the State Technical Committee.

Eligible applications for EQIP and WHIP must address a national priority.  

The fifth national priority is new – movement corridors for wildlife
 

Discussion

Tom Harris – Said the beluga whale is in decline and Tyonic is concerned about the salmon population to sustain the beluga population; what can NRCS do to help?

Al White and Bill Wood – Explained that NRCS already does salmon habitat.  Al commented that a local work group is recognizing the beluga as a local species of priority.

Presentation Continued

Advisory councils discussed briefly

At risk species defined, see 517.25 in presentation
 

CStP

NRCS had two ranking periods since the last meeting.

Everyone who applied and wanted to continue in the application received a contract.

Announcement of Tribal Consolation Meeting Hosted by the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, December 13 & 14, Marriot down town Anchorage.  http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=NA_AT_USDA&navtype=CO
 

Discussion

Nick Begich – asked questions about of navigable waters.

l White –answered that under WHIP, NRCS cannot work under the high water line but in EQIP NRCS can,

Tom Harris – Stated that it is his understanding that since 2005, states are no longer alegible for funding.  Asked what if a private lease was in place on state waters?  The example given was:  If beaver are damming waters, could a tribe enter into a lease from the State and then apply for a contract with NRCS?

Al White – Answered NRCS has done such contracts. 

Bill Wood - Elaborated: In WHIP NRCS cannot work on public lands including land below high water line.  If a stream is non-navigable, then the landowner owns the stream for habitat work.  NRCS does not have anything inhibiting us from stream passage work except people applying. The state has a process to adjudicate land / stream ownership.  Tribes or entity may need to work with state to obtain controlling interest of property and provide proper documentation to prove non-navigable waters. Many streams are not determined. 

Nick Begich – Asked if native allotments are considered private and for streams, a title from the State is required? 

Bill Wood – Confirmed statement was correct.

Tom Harris – Requested a time line from 1995 until today to see how NRCS is responding to needs and funding; preference would be a graph by programs so showing needs by area.

 

Summary of Non-Farm Bill Programs, Scott Crockett

State Technical Committee can provide input to Farm Bill program application, NRCS does work in other programs too, including the emergency Watershed Protection program (EWP):

2010 EWP funding report
$7.5 million spent along Fort Yukon

200,000+ spent for Tanacross debris removal

$12,000+ spent in Noatak

No FY 2010 funds spent in McGrath, but prior year work is ongoing

$ 2 million to move homes out of flooded areas in subdivisions of Evansville and Old Mill

Cooperative agreements,
Village of Kwethluk received $120,000 for 3 high tunnels and research

 

National Resources Inventory Update, Ted Cox

See Presentation

NRI has been used since 1950s but Alaska was not included.

NRI is used as an inventory of trends of lands. In the lower 48 states all land but Federal is inventories.  In Alaska, the new program will include Federal land.

In 2011, a report will go to Congress showing NRI from 2007 through 2011.

In 2004, Alaska was committed to start the process.

Exact locations of inventory sites are confidential.  

Alaska will be a regular part of NRI and likely will expand the sampling in the future. 

See links on presentation for more information.
 

Discussion

Tom Harris – Asked what is the availability of the local landowner to review the interpretation?

Ted Cox – Explained the production arrangement and summery will not be by fine area. 

Tom Harris – Commented there are three locations within state that will be closely linked and will have changes in the future.

Ted Cox – Noted those areas could be referred back to headquarters and could be more closely monitored.

Nick Begich – Asked how do we provide the feed back of what areas need monitored?

Ted– Suggested this group (STC) is a good place to provide input.  HDQ is responsible for NRI so we need to let them know the local needs.

Nick Begich – Commented the state has done Lidar surveys down to one foot.  Are you asking for more funding to do more?  We need to be sure there is enough money to “get the job done.”  It is critical that the data is good , 90percent of the land is owned by underserved people.  The state needs to advocate for it and make the request.  We need to see resources.

Tom Harris – Commented it is critical for this state to have reference points for pilots and transportation within state.

 

Open Questions and Discussion, Scott Crockett

Doug Worner – Asked Ted  if NRI was going to contribute to state data.

Ted Cox – Answered, Landfire is a statewide map and I would like to see the results of NRI incorporated, with confidentially.

Phone question -- Will this provide incentive for the state soil survey?

Ted Cox -  It will assist soils to have this information when they are doing their mapping.

Angela Sandstol –  Asked can NRCS assist with on coast erosion control – we have homes washing into the ocean?

Brett Nelson – Replied that the Corps of Engineers is an agency from which to ask help possibly Homeland Security and Emergency Management, not NRCS.

Robert Stephan – Asked about the Kwethluck  high tunnel project.

Bob Jones – Replied it is a demonstration of three sizes of high tunnel as a research project to determine the most effective size high tunnel for that area.

Question about the NRI  5 years data release—in what format is it supplied?

Ted Cox – Answered, tabular data, at the state level NRCS is hoping for regional information.

Phone  – Ron Wolfe??  Asked about funding tied to NRI?

Bob Jones – NRI data could directly effect our base funding, allocation amount

Doug Worner – Asked who should I contact for State Forestry MOU?  There is a forestry conference coming up.

Update:  West Forestry Consortium (WFC) Members teleconference was rescheduled to November 22.  For more information contact WFC Chair:

Patti Novak-Echenique, NRCS State Rangeland Management Specialist

(775) 857-8500 x 142 patti.novak@nv.usda.gov

 

Update:  The Joint Forestry Team (JFT) is holding a team webinar on Nov 8. The JFT consists of representatives from the Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, National Association of Conservation Districts and the National Association of State Foresters who work to coordinate interagency delivery of forestry and conservation assistance on working forests. For more information contact Bruce Wight.

 Update: A Forest Conservation Farm Bill Progress Report (http://www.forestfoundation.org/pdfs/AFF_FarmBill_Report_2010_Lo.pdf) by the American Forest Foundation is now posted on the internet on the American Forest Foundation website. (http://www.forestfoundation.org/index.html)

 Helen Denniston, State Resource Conservationist oversees all resource state and responsibilities, including forestry.

Telephone question, Peter Malrose, general manager of Kuckouslu (Killisnoo?), said he is surrounded by Forest Service Land, Tongass.  He met with Forest Service and noted new found USDA relationship.  FS invited / shared information about this meeting. (Thanks to FS!) he asked how can his village could better integrate with NRCS?

Al White – Replied he will have the Juneau and Craig Offices contact Peter.

Telephone Reply from Brian – Offered to share information about NRCS with Peter, both parties near Juneau.  Contact Peter via email: peter@kootznoowoo.com .

Scott Crockett will send Peter introduction to NRCS fact sheets.
 

Announcement of Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Winners, Helen Denniston
See presentation

Explanation of CIG and who can compete.

Grants are usually announced in January.  Last year it was announced in May.  In 2010, some applications from Alaska competed in the national contest but none were selected.  (NRCS hosted an in-state program too.)   See presentation for list of grant types and matching requirements.

Alaska has had one grantee selected in the national contest:  Mobile slaughter house for island animal processing on site, 2007

New this year, Alaska hosted an in-state competition.  States cannot announce a state contest until after the national contest is announced.  The Alaska contest started in June.  It was posted in multiple locations, including Grants.gov.  This year $238,000 was set aside from EQIP for the contest. (States are allowed to set aside up to 5% of EQIP allocation).  We received applications and awarded 100 percent of the funding.

The statewide contest is limited to $75,000 per grant.  It is a 50/50 match.  Six applications were received.  Two step application process:  1) Pre-proposal application (brief packet)  2) selected applications then complete a full packet with more information required.  A peer review committee racked pre-proposals.  Five of six pre-proposal applications forwarded for full proposals. 
 

All five were awarded – See presentation for description of each project
 

Discussion

Corey Rossi asked what are the ranking criteria?

Helen Denniston described the ranking process:  The group ranking set the criteria to:

1)      Is the project addressing a national concern?  2) Does the project have value to Alaska?  3) Can the proposers prove matching funds?

Itiaally, the ranking appears easy but as more people apply it will be more defined

Question asked where will final reviews be shown?

Helen Denniston answered, on the website

Helen Denniston Elaborated --National funding could be announced by the first of the year.  Traditionally, the opportunity to apply has been announced the beginning of February.

Nick Begich – asked were nationally winners are posted?

Helen Denniston - answered, the NRCS national website:  http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html

Merlaine Kruse asked if the state and national grant is it two separate pots of money?

Helen Denniston answered - yes, EQIP funding supports the  Alaska contest and National funding is separate.
 

Open Questions and Discussion, Scott Crockett

 Tom Harris – Asked are the new CPM changes published?

Al White and Scott Crockett answered – not posted yet but we expect HDQ will post them soon.

Tom Harris – Asked about Crystal Leonetti’s position (Tribal Liaison) is open, how soon will that postion be filled?

Bob Jones – Answered the national advertisement will go out and then the position filled from 30 days to 6 weeks.

Tom Harris – Asked what the criteria and duties will be?

Bob Jones – Explained the Tribal Liaison and Cultural Resources position will have experience and education requirements.

Tom Harris – Shared about a Statewide Association for Native Issues;  There has been a discussion of a statewide tribal conservation district which could include corporations, like Sealaska, these two groups could overlap.  King salmon in Cook inlet will be a key discussion in the future.

Angela Sandstol – Asked about the state conservation tribal advisory group.  Is there any direction on how to form it? 

Bob Jones – Replied he has seen no discussion.  I have seen states just have a group of tribes in the state create their own group.

Nick Begich – The BIA tribal providers conference would be a good place to reach tribes.

Tom Harris – Said he had two comments:

Ewg.org provides  a database of funding of recipients from NRCS.  Tom says he can withdraw the request of information as it is posted.  Tom requests again the annual report from USDA to DOI  for services provided.  Will it be provided any time soon?

Bob Jones –  Explains that only if at the department DOI requests it from USDA.  Ewg posts all recipients of any funding from USDA.

Tom Harris – Said he will request to the DOI that the report previously mentioned be provided.

Jim LaVoie – Shared that FSA provided a fact sheet on a program with a grant open right now. 

Tom Harris – Said Tyonek applied previously and will apply again.  The application was for a handicapped accessible lodge and hunt (bear).   Do you have any guidance?

Jim LaVoie – Answered, no, the review is at a national level.  The deadline is not set.  They are just looking for proposals right now.  Private and tribal lands are eligible.  The grant is for making private land publically recreational.  The grant is to help provide access to private and tribal lands.


Adjourn, Scott Crockett


Presentations and Handouts
To request these documents contact Executive Assistance Dee Covalt at the Alaska NRCS State Office at (907) 761-7747 or phillma.covalt@ak.usda.gov.

Announcement of Meeting
Agenda
Notes
Farm Bill Program Report
Farm Bill Program Report Cont.
Farm Bill Program Summary
Conservation Innovation Grant Presentation
National Resource Inventory Presentation
 

In-person participants

Eric Johnsen, Alaska DNR Div of Ag

Jim LaVoie, USDA FSA

Merlaine Kruse, USDA Rural Dev.

Nick Begich, Tyonek Native Corp Consultant

Jeff Graham, Alaska Div of Forestry

Doug Worner, Alaska DNR Div of Ag

Andrew Levi, ADFG

Joe Giefer, ADFG

Bob Jones, USDA NRCS

Tom Harris, Tyonek Native Corp

Al White, USDA NRCS

Brett Nelson, USDA NRCS

Bill Wood, USDA NRCS

Angela Sandstol, Tyonek Tribal Conservation Dist

Robin Ray, Tyonek Native Corp

Corey Rossi, ADFG

Robert Stephan, Tyonek Native Corp

Molly Voeller, USDA NRCS

Scott Crockett, USDA NRCS

Helen Denniston, USDA NRCS
 

Call-in participants

Marc Stemp, TNC

Jim Sartucci, WDC

Floyd Kookesh

Peter
Ron Wolfe
Brian