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News Release

2012 New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grants Awarded

Barbara Phillips

SOMERSET NJ, September 28, 2012 –The New Jersey office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the recipients of its statewide 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. The proposals that were selected for funding this year were submitted by the Nature Conservancy, the Musconetcong Watershed Association, and Rutgers University. The four selected proposals will receive a combined $155,765 in grant funding over the next three years.

With their $51,529 award, the Nature Conservancy (TNC) will develop a means to prioritize and promote pollinator habitat projects in the Garden State by applying GIS technology combined with current ecological research and economic data. Social surveys will be used to field test the extent of knowledge about the issues related to this important habitat and barriers to addressing these issues. Marketing materials will be developed to solicit participants for implementing on-the-ground pollinator conservation work in a prioritized area.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association will use their $12,230 grant to evaluate in-stream restoration successes at sites in the Musconetcong River. They will compare these sites to other stream restoration projects in the region, link monitoring findings to specific restoration methods, and develop a methods manual and a technical note for stream restoration projects.

Rutgers University will receive $34,501 to demonstrate that bats can provide an important ecological service to New Jersey’s agricultural industry by controlling the new agricultural pest, the brown marmorated stink bug. Using DNA analysis of insect fragments in bat guano, they will attempt to show that bats can consume brown marmorated stink bugs and other agricultural pests in sufficient quantities to reduce the pest management costs for crops, such as apples, peaches, blueberries, cranberries, soybeans, and bell peppers. If successful, farmers will have a financial incentive to increase the habitat for cavity-roosting bats, a species experiencing steep declines due to White Nose Syndrome.

A second Rutgers University project will use $57,505 in funding to demonstrate how energy monitoring devices can be used to identify opportunities for improved energy efficiency in existing farm facilities. The project aims to educate producers and agricultural professionals in the selection, implementation and use of energy monitoring solutions. The project will provide comprehensive information on the pros and cons of the different technologies available for energy monitoring.

Conservation Innovation Grants are open to individuals, non-federal government and non-government organizations. Applicants may submit proposals for innovative agricultural projects that benefit soil, water, air, plants, animals, or energy resources concerns. Projects must be located in New Jersey and be one to three years in length. CIG is a competitive program.

Information on the Conservation Innovation Grants and this year’s recipients is available on the New Jersey NRCS website,