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Signatures on the Land

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Signatures on the Land

Getting Conservation on the Ground

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided a wide range of programs and services to enable Washington landowners to implement conservation practices and management activities in 2012. According to NRCS State Conservationist Roylene Rides at the Door, these programs and services are providing Washington landowners with technical and financial resources to help them protect and improve soil, water and air quality, as well as wildlife habitat.

“In Fiscal Year 2012,” Rides at the Door said, “landowners continued to use a wide range of conservation programs and services to get more conservation on the ground.” Rides at the Door said that thanks to the continued utilization of key conservation programs made possible through the 2008 Farm Bill, as well as NRCS’ conservation technical assistance activities (CTA), land owners improved irrigation efficiency on some 26,203 acres of land and improved soil quality on 280,676 acres. In addition, she said individual conservation plans were written covering over half a million acres of land in Washington.

Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Washington’s farmers and ranchers received close to $17 million in financial assistance, including nearly $2 million committed to salmon recovery in Washington State. “To protect over 20,000 acres of important Sage Grouse habitat, the NRCS provided $1.2 million through the EQIP Sage Grouse Initiative and the Working Lands for Wildlife incentive,” Rides at the Door said. Additionally, the NRCS provided $2.4 million for restoration on existing projects through the Wetlands Reserve Program.

2012 Conservation Accomplishments at a Glance

Irrigation efficiency improved: Acres = 26,203
Cropland with conservation applied to improve soil quality: Acres = 280,676
Conservation plans written: Acres = 527,123
Soil survey acres mapped: Acres = 105,548
Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans Written = 9
Wetlands created, restored or enhanced: Acres = 1,393
Grazingland and forestland protected through conservation: Acres = 185,987
Plant materials technical documents prepared and transferred to customers: Documents = 34
Cultural resources undertakings reviewed: Total = 1,965
Snow survey and water supply forecasting: Water supply forecasts issued: 678

Financial assistance delivered to Washington producers:

  • Initial financial assistance allocation = $35,424,489 (all programs)
  • Final financial assistance allocation = $44,442,333 (all programs)

2008 Farm Bill Programs

While NRCS’ technical assistance provided the resources for sound conservation planning, a portfolio of voluntary conservation programs authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill provided financial and technical assistance funding to farmers and ranchers to implement needed conservation measures. Following is a brief overview of some of those programs.

2012 Conservation Programs at-a-Glance

Environmental Quality Incentives Program  (EQIP)
Through EQIP, farmers may receive financial and technical help with structural and management conservation practices on agricultural land.
New contracts: 586
Acres: 239,048
Financial assistance: $16,680,960 (includes all initiatives)

EQIP Sage Grouse Initiative
Contracts: 5
Acres: 8,299
Financial assistance: $537,479

EQIP Energy Initiative
Contracts: 151
Acres: 111,440
Financial assistance: $4,392,615

EQIP Organic Initiative
Contracts: 42
Acres: 946
Financial assistance: $418,035

EQIP High Tunnel Initiative
Contracts: 67
Acres: 413
Financial assistance: $430,508

EQIP Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Partnership
Contracts: 20
Acres: 19 miles of fish passage/stream habitat opened, 17.8 acres of new buffers
Financial assistance: $1,972,955

Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) - A Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) Initiative for Sage Grouse
WLFW is a new partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to use agency technical expertise combined with $33 million in financial assistance from WHIP to combat the decline of seven specific wildlife species whose decline can be reversed and will benefit other species with similar habitat needs.
New contracts: 7
Acres: 12,482
Financial assistance: $748,622

Conservation Stewardship Program  (CSP)
Contracts: 77
Acres: 195,462
Financial assistance: $13,691,015

Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program  (FRPP)
This program provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses. Working through existing programs, USDA partners with state, Tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners.
Easements: 28
Acres: 1506
Funding: $3,822,292

Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP)
Contracts: 13
Acres: 4,025
Funding: $806,932

Conservation Innovation Grants Program  (CIG)
This program is intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production.
Number awarded: 4
Funding: $149,091

Wetlands Reserve Program  (WRP)
WRP offers landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property.  Through this program, NRCS provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts.
Agreements: 2
Acres: 51
Funding: $214,978 for new restoration; $2,375,702 for restoration on existing agreements

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