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News Release

USDA Funds Conservation Innovation with $14.6 Million Investment in New Tools, Technology Development

Mindi Rambo, Public Affairs Specialist, 208.378.5720

BOISE, Idaho, October 30, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is awarding more than $14.6 million in grants in states across the country to support the development of innovative systems, tools, and technologies for production and conservation on agricultural lands. Funds are provided through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which awards grants to organizations, universities, and others that are developing innovations to support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners.

Two of the selected applications have an Idaho component. The first is from Heart of the Rockies for Landowner collaborative strategies for nonlethal predator control.
Heart of the Rockies will accelerate innovation by developing a community of practice to implement nonlethal predator control techniques across diverse social and ecological contexts. Through a diverse partnership, the project will evaluate the effectiveness of techniques across occupied grizzly bear and wolf habitat, examining potential for conservation practices and developing collaborative strategies and producer guidelines for nonlethal predator control. The project will take place in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

The other was made by Friends of the Teton River, Inc. and will focus on Teton Basin aquifer recharge demonstration: Expanding innovative irrigation management.
Friends of the Teton River will demonstrate and evaluate a stakeholder-driven, science-based approach to water management in Southeastern Idaho that uses market forces to incentivize early season aquifer recharge. Intended benefits will be an extended local irrigation season, enhanced farm productivity, and improved habitat and water quality for critical fish and wildlife species. This project will take place in Idaho and Wyoming.

This USDA investment has generated more than $15.3 million in partner matching funds, resulting in almost $30 million for conservation innovation. Authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, the CIG program has awarded nearly $300 million to-date.

“The world’s population is increasing, but available agricultural land is decreasing,” said Curtis Elke, NRCS State Conservationist for Idaho. “Through science and innovation, we can help landowners improve the health of their operations and productivity on their lands while protecting the natural resources we all depend on. The new systems, tools, and technologies being developed through CIG are helping us ensure the longevity of American agriculture.” 

The 2020 funding pool focused on five priority areas: air quality, water quality, water reuse, energy conservation, and wildlife habitat. This is the first year that water reuse is a priority area, pursuant to USDA’s commitment under the National Water Reuse Action Plan, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency on February 27, 2020.  

NRCS selected 24 projects for the 2020 CIG awards. For a full list of projects and descriptions, visit the CIG website.

More About CIG

CIG is a competitive grants program that supports development, testing, and research of conservation technologies, practices, systems, and approaches on private lands. Grantees must match the CIG investment at least one to one.

All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. Funding announcement information can be accessed through the CIG website or on

State NRCS offices are also able to fund and hold their own CIG competitions, in addition to the National CIG signup. Visit NRCS state office websites for information about state CIG competitions.

CIG also contributes to the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, a USDA initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, USDA is working to stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.

For more information about the CIG program, visit the CIG website.


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