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Kansas Technical Committee Minutes—July 9, 2018

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) & Kansas Technical Committee (KTC)
Sub Committee Meeting
Drought Initiative and Grazing Lands Health
July 9, 2018

In attendance:

  • Monty Breneman, NRCS
  • Bruce Wells, NRCS
  • Dean Krehbiel, NRCS
  • Tracey Burgess, NRCS
  • Dave Jones, Dept. of Ag, Division of Conservation
  • Dusty Tacha, NRCS
  • Dan Meyerhoff, KACD
  • Jim Hays, TNC
  • Chris Berens, KDWPT
  • Howard Miller, Cheney Lake Watershed
  • Nancy Brown, Kansas Farm Bureau
  • Kevin (Gus) Gustafson, NRCS
  • Matt Smith, KDWPT

Meeting called to order at 11 :01 a.m. by Monty Breneman with opening remarks.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture on behalf of the Governor of Kansas recently made inquiry about what NRCS could possibly do regarding a Special Environmental Quality Initiatives Program (EQIP) initiative sign up for the ongoing drought issues throughout a large portion of Kansas. Many requests for financial and technical assistance are coming in to field offices around the state due to the ongoing drought.

NRCS has the ability to request additional financial assistance specifically for an initiative that can be targeted to the counties that have been designated Emergency Condition. Monty requested input from the KTC Grazing Lands subcommittee regarding support for such an initiative along with any recommendations or concerns they may have.

Open Discussion

Howard Miller: NRCS programs address resource concerns, so my question is, what is the resource concerns we are addressing with this initiative?

Monty: Under the current Grazing Lands subaccount, we would use inadequate livestock water. This would fall under that subaccount as an eligible resource concern. Wells, springs, pipelines, tanks and possibly ponds, would fall under this subaccount.

Howard Miller: We have always required a grazing plan (GP) for this category. If the pond is dried up usually so is the grass. Will we create a new issue if we allow them to overgraze because we make water available? Is there a plan to have a management plan with this program to check the conditions after the fact?

Monty: I'll put that out to the committee. There are some places where the grass has not been affected, but there is not water available.

Chris Berens: On pond development, we would be concerned about an aquatic organism issue, so we would like to see no ponds being planned within a stream that would prevent passage of aquatic organisms.

Jim Hays: On GPs, is there a way to streamline those because I support that we need to have some kind of way to investigate the grass prior to providing this water assistance.

Monty: KTC recommended that for fiscal year (FY) 2019 we consider whether or not we would require a GP on all grazing lands health (GLH) applications. It could be possible, if the range conservationist finds that the land is not in jeopardy, that we could eliminate the need for a GP in some cases. Ultimately it is up to the state conservationist (STC) to decide. Even though it is an emergency situation, we do not want to create a new resource concern.

Matt Smith: Is this limited to only certain counties in the state?

Monty: After reading a copy of the Governor's news release and my conversations with Rob, it appears we would most likely target those counties who are in the emergency drought category.

Dean Krehbiel: Just be aware that any water development, outside of a pond, it is based on many factors, including the condition of the land, so things like types and kinds of livestock, range condition, etc. will be taken into account.

Howard Miller: Concerned that those affected on the outskirts of an area might not meet the criteria of being in the county. Also, is there any kind of monitoring planned for the management plan?

Dave Jones: Did you talk with Rod about contiguous counties being eligible for this?

Monty: We did not, but if that is a recommendation from this committee, we can add that.

Dave Jones: I think it should be to alleviate the issues in the outskirts of the counties.

Gus: It is typical to define an area and include contiguous.

What will the payment rates be?

Monty: Same rates as you currently see under GLH

Monty: I would like to add that because of the timeframe being so close to the end of FY 2018, I will be asking that we be allowed to have a second sign up, rolling the FY 2018 funds over to FY 2019.

Howard Miller: That would be a great idea allowing for better planning.

Monty: So to summarize what we have here, correct me if I am wrong, but it is the recommendation of the GLH subcommittee that we move forward with this special initiative. To be eligible you would have to be in a drought emergency or contiguous county as designated by the Governor.

We would follow current payment programs and carry FY 2018 funds over to FY 2019 (if NHQ allows) providing for a second sign up. It is recommended that no ponds be built in streams that may inhibit passage of aquatic organisms. That we follow FY 2018 guidelines on the need for a GP unless the STC has approved the KTC's FY 2019 recommendation to not always require a GP.

No one made any corrections.

Meeting adjourned at 9:26 a.m.