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USDA Accepts Grant Applications for Conservation Innovation Efforts

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Grant Program Links Public, Private Groups to Improve the Environment and Preserve Resources

SPOKANE, Wash, Feb. 21, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for competitive grants to develop and accelerate conservation approaches and technologies on private agricultural and forest lands.

"Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) have contributed to some of the most pioneering conservation work on America's agricultural and forest lands," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "It's an excellent investment in new conservation technologies and approaches that farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can use to achieve their production and conservation goals."

About $15 million will be made available nationwide by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). State and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental and educational organizations, private businesses and individuals are eligible to apply.

 “Even though Washington State isn’t offering state funding for CIGs, I am encouraged funding is still being offered nationally,” said State Conservationist Roylene Rides that the Door. “Those who qualify from Washington shouldn’t hesitate to apply.”

Rides at the Door said priority will be given to applications that relate to nutrient management, air quality, energy conservation, soil health, climate change, wildlife, economics, sociology, environmental markets, food safety, historically underserved groups, or assessments of past CIG projects.

In the 10 years that NRCS has administered the program, grants have helped develop water quality trading markets, demonstrated ways to increase fertilizer water and energy efficiencies, as well as address other resource concerns.

For example, Trout Unlimited in Washington State used the investments of NRCS and other funders to create an innovative approach to enhance instream flows in the Methow River and its two largest tributaries, forming the Methow Basin Water Exchange Cooperative Project. The project ensured the protection of instream flows and the sharing of information and identification of agricultural water needs so that water transfers would ensure benefits to both fish and farms.

Washington State University used CIG funding to create a suite of best management practices (BMPs) for mitigating air emission from naturally ventilated free-stall barns. The outcome of this project is a suite of alternative BMPs that dairy operators could select from to meet their desired air emission mitigations from their respective operations.

The grant program enables NRCS to work with public and private partners to accelerate technology development and adopt promising approaches to address natural resource concerns. Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the grants are awarded through a competitive process. At least 50 percent of the total cost of the three-year grant project must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.

For more on this grant opportunity, visit To apply electronically, visit

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America's farmers and ranchers conserve the nation's soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.

Follow NRCS on Twitter. Check out other conservation-related stories on the USDA Blog. Watch videos on NRCS' YouTube channel.



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