By Nate Gallahan
NRCS-WA State Public Affairs Specialist
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington (NRCS-WA) released more information on the completely voluntary FY23 Riparian Buffer Program, Jan. 5, 2023.
The new fact sheet includes information on four “tiers” of riparian buffers, with examples of associated practices and estimated payment scenarios – to include many with foregone income to help compensate landowners for income lost if they install a buffer.
“Riparian buffers are extremely important for water quality and to protect fish and wildlife habitat," said Roylene Comes At Night, State Conservationist for NRCS-WA. "We designed a program that would help producers in Washington decrease water temperatures by increasing the number of buffers installed. I believe that by providing compensation for the income that producers lose for land that is no longer in production is the key.”
The “tiers” listed in the fact sheet are examples, the specifics of each conservation plan will determine which activity and scenario will best serve each landowner.
For example, the third “tier” of the program supports landowners’ install native woody vegetation for wildlife and pollinators. The “tier” includes two rows of 35-foot-wide riparian buffers. Depending on the specifics of the conservation plan developed between NRCS and the landowner, NRCS-WA could support them with tree and shrub site preparation, planting hedgerows, and managing the wildlife over a five-year contract. The five-year contract total per acre could be $9,579.16.
For those interested in assistance installing riparian buffers, they need to apply through a local USDA service center by Jan. 13, 2023, which is the program’s FY23 application deadline.
For more information on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, click here.
Each applicant must establish themselves as a USDA customer and obtain all Farm Service Agency (FSA) eligibility requirements by January 27, 2023. Please note, Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) determination has been taking up to eight weeks to be processed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is highly recommended that applicants submit their completed AGI form to FSA several weeks prior to the FSA eligibility determination deadline. Submitting your AGI form to FSA on the last day of the application period will result in your AGI eligibility not being met by the deadline for Fiscal Year 2023.