Availability of EQIP Funds for Use on Public Lands
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Farm Bill Funds Available for Conservation Practices on Public Lands
February 24, 2011 - For many years, Nevada’s farmers and ranchers have received funding under the Farm Bill for conservation activities on their private land. Now with the passage of the newest Farm Bill, public land permittees are able to receive funding for conservation measures installed on public lands.
“Funding contracts on public lands is a relatively new opportunity for farmers and ranchers in Nevada,” said Gary Roeder, assistant state conservationist for programs with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “We work with the permittee and land managing agency, such as the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, to identify projects and areas where natural resource and public benefits can be enhanced with the use of Farm Bill funds on public lands”, said Roeder.
“We funded several public land contracts last year under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program of the 2008 Farm Bill,” said Roeder. These contracts included a wide range of practices such as fencing, pinyon – juniper reduction, brush management, and site specific improvements for sage-grouse habitat restoration.
To qualify, applicants must be the permittee on the public land where the work is being done, and meet eligibility requirements of the 2008 Farm Bill for the program. The same payment rates apply for both the public and private land. Historically underserved, beginning and limited resource producers receive a higher percentage payment. Payments are determined by the estimated cost of the project practices. All environmental clearances must be completed on public land according to the agency’s policies before practices can be contracted and installed. Program participants pay for the installation of the approved practices and are reimbursed once the practices are installed according to NRCS specifications.
Applications for participation in EQIP are taken on a continual basis at local USDA Service Centers. Projects are ranked and selected for funding based on the project benefits as related to other applicants. For more information, contact your local NRCS office or visit the Nevada NRCS Web site at http://www.nv.nrcs.usda.gov..
Ranchers Can Request Farm Bill Funds for Projects on Public Land
RENO, May 17 â”€ For years, the Farm Bill has provided financial assistance to agricultural producers to install conservation practices on their private land. Now that same opportunity is available on public lands in Nevada, those lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and other federal and state agencies.
“Sage-grouse habitat improvement, wildfire restoration and fencing are just a few of the practices that can be applied on public land using Farm Bill funds,” said Bruce Petersen, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Nevada.
The NRCS has been working with the BLM and FS to identify projects that are ready to be installed. Both agencies require environmental assessments and compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before improvements can be made on public land.
“We have several projects statewide that have already been cleared and are just waiting for funding,” said Ron Wenker, state director for the Bureau of Land Management. “The ability to spend Farm Bill funds on public land is a win-win situation for producers and agencies alike.”
Jeanne Higgins, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor, agrees. “This provides an opportunity to work across landscapes with willing landowners and other agencies to achieve common conservation goals,” said Higgins.
The NRCS has just launched a new initiative to help sage-grouse and improve working lands in eleven western states. Landowners in Nevada are eligible to receive payments to remove pinyon-juniper trees, restore burned areas, retrofit fences and install escape ramps in water tanks. “Being able to do these practices on public lands will help us be even more successful protecting the bird and its habitat,” said Petersen.
Applicants must be the permittee on the land where the work is being done, and must meet the eligibility requirements of the 2008 Farm Bill for the Environmental Quality Incentives and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Programs. The same payment rates apply for both public and private land, and historically underserved, beginning and limited resource producers receive a higher percentage. All environmental clearances must be completed on public lands according to that agency’s policies before practices can be installed. Producers pay for the cost of installing the approved practices and are reimbursed once the practices are installed according to NRCS specifications.
Interested producers should contact their local NRCS, BLM or FS office for more information. Applications for financial assistance must to be filed with the local NRCS office.
May 29, 2009 - The EQIP Public Lands Issue Amendent is now available (PDF, 56KB). The public comment period regarding the amendment subject matter, not the entire EQIP interim final rule, is extended until June 29, 2009.
Under the January 15, 2009, interim final rule (IFR), NRCS, on behalf of CCC, can make an EQIP payment for implementation of a conservation practice on public land provided that the public land is a working component of the participant’s agricultural and forestry operation, the participant has control of the land for the term of the contract, and the conservation practice on public land would contribute to an improvement in the identified resource concern that is on private land. NRCS includes in this Amendment to the IFR an expansion of this exception regarding conservation practices on public land. In particular, NRCS is removing the requirement that the benefit of the conservation practice on public land address an identified resource concern that is on private land. NRCS has determined that the EQIP statute should not be interpreted so narrowly to preclude the ability of private landowners to enroll part of their overall agricultural or forestry operation simply because the resource concerns exist on land, though held by a public agency, that is managed as part of the private landowner’s operation pursuant to a long-term lease from a public agency. Therefore, NRCS is amending the January 15, 2009, IFR to authorize an EQIP contract to include conservation practices that address an identified resource concern on public land where a participant manages such lands as a working component of their agricultural or forestry operation, and the participant has control of the land for the term of the EQIP contract.
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