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NRCS and FSA Meet with Tribal Governors/CSP Contract Signed

 

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(L to R): Donovan Todd, FSA; Tribal Governor Richard Doyle; and Juan Hernandez, NRCS.

Maine NRCS State Conservationist Juan Hernandez, FSA State Executive Director Donovan Todd, and appropriate staffs took a day and traveled to Downeast Maine, Washington County, to visit the two Governors of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.  The meetings were multi-purpose, including:  the new USDA leadership to meet the Tribal leadership and vice versa, talk about the Tribe's conservation needs and how USDA can help meet those needs, and to sign a Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contract for their blueberry land.

Richard Doyle, Governor of Pleasant Point, and William Nicholas, Governor of Indian Township, appreciated the efforts of both agencies and look forward to future meetings at which they can talk in more detail about programs available to them.  The Passamaquoddy Tribe are not strangers to the NRCS programs, however.  From 1997 to 2008, the Tribe has had 11 contracts for a total of more than $1 million, of which more than $943,000 was funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $90,000 through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and $55,000 through the Healthy Forests Reserve Program.  More than $800,000 have been applied to date.  The Tribal leadership  are interested in learning more about the 2008 Farm Bill and how it can help change their infrastructure.

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Tribal Governor William Nicholas (center) signs the CSP contract as State Conservationist Juan Hernandez and Washington County District Conservationist David Garcelon look on.

Following the meetings, the two Governors signed a CSP contract for 1,709 acres of blueberry cropland owned by the Tribe and operated by the Northeastern Blueberry Company (NEBCO).  The total contract is for more than $209,000, which will be paid over a five-year period.  The blueberries are harvested from blueberry fields located on tribal lands in Township 19MD, Centerville, Columbia Falls, and Columbia.

The new CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations.

Hernandez and Todd are also meeting with the leaders of the other three Maine Tribes--the Penboscot, MicMac and Maliseet Tribes.