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Kansas Technical Committee Minutes | August 30, 2011

Kansas Technical Committee Minutes - August 2011

Kansas Technical Committee (KTC)
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
9:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m.
NRCS Conference Center
747 Duvall
Salina, Kansas

Eric B. Banks, State Conservationist (STC), Natural Resources Conservationist (NRCS), Salina, Kansas, called the Kansas Technical Committee (KTC) meeting to order. Eric welcomed members and introductions were made.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

Joni Y. Franklin, Resource Conservationist, NRCS, Salina, Kansas, opened the discussion regarding the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 WHIP with an overview of the 2011 WHIP accomplishments.

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WHIP Presentation (PDF; 954 KB)

FY 2012 Payment Rates

KTC Recommendation No. 1: Keep FY 2012 payment rates the same as they were in FY 2011.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

KTC Recommendation No. 2: Keep FY 2012 ranking tool “weightings” the same as they were in FY 2011.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

State Ranking

KTC Recommendation: Give priority ranking to applications having more than 50 percent of the offered acreage within an identified Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Quail Initiative area.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

Local Ranking

There were no proposed additions, deletions, or other recommended changes to the Local Ranking.

Resource Concerns

There were no proposed additions, deletions, or other recommended changes to the eligible resource concerns.

Eligible Practices

KTC Recommendation No. 1: Add Conservation Practice 315, Herbaceous Weed Control, to the eligible practices list.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

KTC Recommendation No. 2: Remove Conservation Practice 580, Streambank and Shoreline Protection, from the eligible practices list.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

Ranking Criteria

There were no proposed additions, deletions, or other recommended changes to the ranking criteria.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Corey L. Nelson, Resource Conservationist, NRCS, Salina, Kansas, opened the discussion regarding the FY 2012 EQIP with an overview of the 2011 EQIP accomplishments.

EQIP Presentation (PDF; 1 MB)
EQIP Organic Presentation (PDF; 1 MB)

The full committee recommends the following:

FY 2012 Payment Rates

KTC Recommendation No.1: Keep FY 2012 payment rates the same as FY 2011.
STC Decisions: Concurred with this recommendation

KTC Recommendation No. 2: Keep FY 2012 ranking tool “weightings” the same as FY 2011.
STC Decisions: Concurred with this recommendation

State Ranking

KTC Recommendation: Update the Water Quantity ranking category criteria to include priority for the Water Right Conservation Program.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

Local Ranking

KTC Recommendation: Add priority to applicants in the Grazing Lands Health ranking category that have or will attend an acceptable range school.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

Resource Concerns

There were no proposed additions, deletions, or other recommended changes to the eligible resource concerns.

Eligible Practices

KTC Recommendation No.1: Add Conservation Practice 660, Tree/Shrub Pruning, to the Forest Land Health. Add Conservation Practice 315, Herbaceous Weed Control, to the Forest Land Health, Grazing Lands Health, and Wildlife Habitat ranking categories eligible practice lists.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation. As this is a new NRCS practice, it will be added to all appropriate ranking categories.

KTC Recommendation No. 2: Maintain Conservation Practice 580, Streambank and Shoreline Protection, in the Water Quality and Sedimentation Above Federal Reservoirs’ eligible practice list.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

KTC Recommendation No. 3: Add Conservation Practice 338, Prescribed Burning, to the Wildlife Habitat eligible practice list.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

KTC Recommendation No. 4: Keep Conservation Practice 798, Seasonal High Tunnels, only in EQIP Organic Initiative eligible practice list.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

KTC Recommendation No. 5: Require wildlife escape ramps on all applications requesting watering facilities.
STC Decision: Wildlife escape ramps will be required where applicant designates wildlife as a primary or secondary resource concern.

FY 2012 EQIP Allocation Distribution

There were no proposed additions, deletions, or other recommended changes to the EQIP allocation distribution.

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

The Geographic Area Rate Caps (GARC) for WRP was reviewed. GARC rates are to be an amount that is offered to landowners for easements that the STC considers a fair price and is below the market analysis rate. For WRP purposes, Kansas was divided into five geographic regions for market analysis. These same areas will be used to establish GARC rates for FY 2012. The draft GARC rates were developed using information from the Kansas Department of Agriculture Kansas Agricultural Statistics and Kansas Land Values and Cash Rents at the County Level publication from Kansas State University Agricultural Economics. Values were adjusted to a 2012 level for value and compared to the market analysis rates. WRP GARC map is attached. It was pointed out that Area 1 GARC is significantly higher as compared to Area 2, because the rate was calculated on an irrigated value as to dry land value in Area 2. The reasoning behind this GARC rate establishment process is because there is a greater likelihood that WRP easements in Area 1 could be on irrigated land, thus the use of irrigated value.

WRP Geographic Area Rate Caps Map (PDF; 304 KB)

KTC Recommendation: Concurred with the proposed FY 2012 GARC rates for the WRP and recommended the STC submit these rates to national headquarters (NHQ) for approval.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

Discussion then switched to the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) and the development of GARC for FY 2012. GRP GARC map is attached. There was an explanation of how the rates were developed. The rates established had to be equal to or less than the fair market value (FMV) minus the grazing value. Kansas determined that a rate that is 30 percent of the FMV is a rate that meets the criteria for setting GARC and would be a reasonable offer to landowners. There was limited discussion questioning if the 30 percent amount is too large of a percentage of the FMV for establishing GARC.

GRP Geographic Area Rate Caps Map (PDF; 296 KB)

KTC Recommendation: Concurred with the proposed FY 2012 GARC rates for GRP and recommended the STC submit these rates to NHQ for approval.
STC Decision: Concurred with this recommendation.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

The KTC met August 30, 2011, to review and make recommendations on the CRP procedure requirements.

Rod J. Winkler, Agricultural Programs Specialist, Conservation and Emergency Programs Division, Farm Service Agency (FSA), Manhattan, Kansas, provided the following handouts.

CP25–Required Maintenance Burn

Rod reviewed the Kansas procedure and a background of the maintenance burn policy for CRP practice CP25. He then provided recommendations submitted to FSA by KDWPT and the NRCS summarized below.

KDWPT recommends the CP25 maintenance burn requirement be removed from Kansas policy and a greater emphasis be placed on prescribed management activities based upon site specific conditions to ensure statutory purposes of CRP are met.

The NRCS recognizes the primary concerns with burning under below optimal conditions in the western part of the state and unfavorable results that can result. This recommendation suggests the maintenance burn policy be reviewed with the KTC for input and recommendation. If the policy continues, then the recommendation suggest five primary steps to address the concern including burning later, burn during the nesting for establishing stands, delay scheduled burn, adding burn exemption criteria, and encourage participants request NRCS assistance prior to completion of any burning.

Rod then opened the floor to discussion and recommendations. Several questions and concerns were brought up including:

  • Would we still achieve the same objectives without the required maintenance burn?
  • Is it worth it to leave the policy alone, would there be negative impact?
  • Has there been a negative impact to enrollment with the burn requirement on CP25?
  • Give producers an out when conditions are not optimal.
  • May need to revisit all management practices if we eliminate burn and add additional options.
  • Increase the cost-share payment incentive for prescribed burns under management.

KTC Maintenance Burn Recommendation:
After lengthy discussion on the Kansas CP25 burn policy, two primary recommendations were made but no basic consensus was reached by the KTC. The following are the two primary recommendations:

  • Keep maintenance burn for the eastern two-thirds of the state (Norton to Clark), drop required burning in the western one-third. Add grazing in lieu of burning for the west side of the state for maintenance with no reduction for one practice of maintenance grazing.
  • Eliminate the maintenance requirement statewide because management is already required.
CP25–Allow Managed Grazing

A second recommendation submitted by both KDWPT and NRCS addressed restrictions in national policy for grazing of practice CP25. In Kansas, the threatened and endangered ecosystems being restored under CP25 are our native prairies and plant communities that dominated the landscape prior to conversion to cropland and evolved over the centuries under regular fire management by Native Americans and grazing buffalo. Although prairie ecosystems developed under grazing pressures, the national policy eliminates the ability to use grazing as a management tool to establish and maintain these grassland communities.

The KTC unanimously agreed and strongly support managed grazing as a management tool and should be allowed on practice CP25 in Kansas.

Kansas CRP Haying and Grazing Activity as of August 2, 2011

Rod provided a printout of the 2011 haying and grazing activity as of August 2, 2011.

Map - Kansas CP 25 Acres by County (PDF; 63 KB)

The meeting adjourned at 3 p.m.

Attendees:

  • Barb Oltjen, State Association of Kansas Watersheds
  • Mary Fund, Kansas Rural Center
  • Susan Metzger, Kansas Water Office (KWO)
  • Susan Stover, KWO
  • Mazpul Scershenore, KWO
  • Don Jones, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Conservation
  • Steve Sorensen, Kansas Wildlife Federation
  • Joe Kramer, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)
  • Matt Smith, KDWPT
  • Barth Crouch, Playa Lakes Joint Venture
  • Terry Medley, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE)
  • Kerry Wedel, KDHE
  • Mike Beam, Kansas Livestock Association
  • Jim Hays, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas
  • Ted Alexander, Producer
  • Mike Disney, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Jordan Martincich, Pheasants Forever
  • Damon Frizzell, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Gina Grier, EPA Cal Adams, Smoky Hills Graziers
  • Jennifer Hancock, SMH Consultants
  • Tony Jacobs, Pheasants Forever
  • Stephanie Manes, Ranchland Trust of Kansas
  • Tim Christian, Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition
  • Steve Swaffar, Kansas Farm Bureau
  • Jan Windscheffel, Netafim USA Precision Irrigation
  • Ron Brown, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts/Resource Conservation Development
  • Larry Biles, Kansas Forest Service (KFS)
  • Bob Atchison, KFS
  • Howard Miller, Cheney Lake Watershed
  • Rod Winkler, Farm Service Agency (FSA)
  • Carla Wikoff, FSA
  • Eric Banks, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • Gaye Benfer, NRCS
  • Jon Ungerer, NRCS
  • Xiomara Eaves, NRCS
  • Joni Franklin, NRCS
  • Corey Nelson, NRCS
  • Harold Blume, NRCS
  • David Kraft, NRCS
  • Lynn Thurlow, NRCS
  • Jeff Gross, NRCS