Indianapolis, IN, December 29, 2017 - In 2017, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) continued its proud tradition of working in partnership with farmers and forest landowners in Indiana and across the country.
“I am pleased to share the results of our 2017 program data and science-based surveys that shows we and our conservation partners brought a healthier resource base to Indiana, used taxpayers’ dollars wisely, made people safer, and provided a high level of customer-focused technical assistance to thousands of residents and communities,” said Jane Hardisty, NRCS state conservationist.
Here are some highlights from Indiana:
Investments in Planning and Farm Bill Programs
In Indiana, NRCS completed more than 1,500 contracts helping land managers invest in their operations. This work resulted in conservation plans for 276,753 acres of working lands.
A $23 million investment in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helped put conservation practices on more than 182,380 acres in the state. Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) enhancements to build on existing conservation efforts were placed on more than 57,902 acres. Nearly 3,428 acres of wetlands in Indiana were protected through new enrollments in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
In 2017, NRCS targeted the conservation of some of the nation’s most-valuable resources. Because of this assistance from NRCS and its partners:
In addition to general funding opportunities, NRCS targets dollars to watersheds showing the greatest natural resource concerns. Focusing conservation in these priority watersheds can make a more positive impact on the health of our nation’s streams and rivers. In Indiana, conservation practices were implemented in priority watersheds including more than 27,409 acres in the Western Lake Erie Basin, 4,522 acres in the Mississippi River Basin and 3,814 acres in the Big Pine watershed.
More than $640,000 was invested in Indiana’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, an effort between NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service to reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve habitat for at-risk species while working across public and private lands.
The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and military veteran farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing NRCS programs and services. Indiana NRCS worked on 92 contracts with historically underserved landowners, putting conservation on nearly 7,200 acres of their land.
Over 1,600 acres of reclaimed mine land in southwest Indiana were restored by implementing soil health practices through the Soil Health on Reclaimed Mine Lands Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project.
Much of Indiana was hit hard by storms in 2017, causing extensive flooding in local communities. Through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), NRCS provides assistance to communities by working with local government entities and Tribes in impacted areas to remove debris, stabilize streambanks and fix water control structures, among other practices. Indiana NRCS completed three EWP projects in 2017, investing over one million dollars in financial and technical assistance for streambank and road stabilization projects. Local partners contributed an addition $346,908 for these projects.
NRCS improved customer service by applying new ways to meet its customers’ needs. In 2017, NRCS:
Offered more than 200 customizable conservation activities through Farm Bill programs.
Added customer-requested evaluation, ranking, and obligation processes to CSP
Through Indiana NRCS technical assistance, education and outreach efforts many of our customers applied conservation practices on their own. For example, our tillage transect shows that for every acre of cover crop applies through our programs, 5 acres of cover crop was applied on their own expense.