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News Release

USDA funds conservation innovation with $14.6 million investment in new tools, technology development

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash., (Nov. 2, 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.

Washington State was awarded three National CIG projects. One in the Energy Conservation category and two in the Wildlife Habitat category for more than $2 million in grants.

Energy Conservation

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
NRCS Award: $595,026
Data-driven market transformation for controlled environment agriculture
States: CO; IL; MA; OR; PA; WA
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy will characterize key performance indicators, baseline data, and facility level benchmarking for controlled environmental agricultural facilities. The project will develop a comprehensive suite of data tools, coupled with a market intervention strategy to address barriers to energy conservation, adoption of energy-efficient technologies, access to energy use data, and best practices.

Wildlife Habitat

Heart of the Rockies
NRCS Award: $886,255
Landowner collaborative strategies for nonlethal predator control
States: AZ; CA; ID; MT; NM; OR; WA
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.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research
NRCS Award: $694,167
Automated wildlife monitoring: Enabling producers to measure their conservation impacts
States: TX; CA; WA; AZ
Texas A&M will use innovative integration of camera, image, and sensor technology to create a tool to monitor wildlife typically difficult to observe. Dramatic images, fine-scale data, ArcGIS compatibility, and an accessible web interface will empower producers and scientists to better monitor wildlife on agricultural land, creating a low-cost monitoring system with the potential to measure the positive effects of conservation measures.



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 Roylene Comes At Night, state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington. “Through science and innovation, we can help farmers 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 Feb. 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 Grants.gov.

Washington State NRCS does not offer a State CIG Program.

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.