Landowners Encouraged to Apply Now for Conservation Funding
Pedro Ramos, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 801-524-4552, email@example.com
Ron Francis, NRCS State Public Affairs Officer, 801-524-4557, firstname.lastname@example.org
Salt Lake City, Utah, February 5, 2014 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)is now accepting applications from private landowners and tribes for financial and technical assistance with several conservation initiatives being offered in 2014. Applications may be submitted at any time, however to be considered for FY 2014 funding, applications must be received by March 21, 2014.
NRCS continues to work in partnership with private landowners and conservation and agricultural groups to identify and prioritize natural resource concerns within communities across Utah. This local guidance ensures that NRCS works collaboratively with landowners, land managers, and conservation partners to address and improve resource issues on a landscape scale.
“Our mission is to solve natural resource problems by placing the money Congress invests in conservation with landowners who have a stewardship commitment to make a difference,” said David Brown, NRCS Utah State Conservationist.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program(EQIP)is one of several voluntary conservation programs designed to help farmers and ranchers improve and enhance the condition of water, soil, and other natural resources on private working lands. Additional assistance for beginning, historically underserved and limited resource farmers, ranchers and forestry owners is also available through these programs.
EQIP has become one of NRCS’s primary instruments in providing conservation assistance to producers in Utah. NRCS encourages and invites any Utah agricultural, forestry or livestock producer interested in structural or management conservation practices to contact their local NRCS representative to see what financial or technical assistance may be available in their area.
The following initiatives are offered through EQIP in Utah. Contact your local NRCS office to learn more about the deadlines and details of these initiatives:
Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI):SGI offers financial assistance to farmers and ranchers interesting in improving sage grouse habitat through practice including retrofitting existing fences to increase their visibility and reduce sage-grouse mortality; installing escape ramps for wildlife in watering facilities; deferring grazing in nesting areas to increase residual cover and increase brood survival rates; and treating noxious or invasive weeds to improve range condition and sage-grouse habitat. The initiative is limited to sage grouse habitat areas of Utah.
National Organic Initiative (NOI):Provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers and those transitioning to organic to address natural resource concerns. It also helps growers meet requirements related to National Organic Program (NOP) requirements and certain program payment limitations.
National on-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI):Provides financial assistance to producers to help identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through two types of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) for headquarters and/or for landscape, also known as an on-farm energy audit (headquarters and/or landscape); and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various conservation practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.
Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative (SHT): Helps producers plan and implement seasonal high tunnels, which are steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner.
National Water Quality Incentive (NWQI):Helps farmers and ranchers implement conservation systems to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land in specific approved watersheds. Contact your local NRCS field office to see if you are eligible.
Southwest Willow Flycatcher Initiative (SWFL): Under the Working Lands for Wildlife Program, private landowners can protect this endangered species and restore breeding habitat, combat habitat loss, and establish native plants on riparian areas along the Southern border of Utah.
“While all of these programs are offered on a continuous sign-up basis, individuals interested in applying for 2014 funding should contact their local USDA-NRCS service center office before the March 21 application ranking deadline,” Brown said.
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