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Landscape Initiatives

National Priorities

On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation. 

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI):  Through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and our partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in selected focus watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. The Kentucky MRBI projects for 2015 are the Red River Watershed in parts of Logan, Simpson and Todd Counties, and the Southeast Lower Green River Watershed in parts of Henderson, Daviess, McLean, Hopkins, and Webster Counties. The Red River project is a continuation of an existing MRBI project while the Southeast Lower Green River project is a high-priority watershed project that builds on previous MRBI work done in the area. Core and supporting practices offered through MRBI have been established in a partnership effort with the Ky Division of Conservation based on the natural resources being targeted. These core and supporting practices eligible for MRBI are included in the Kentucky EQIP Guidance Document

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI):  The National Water Quality Initiative will work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams. NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces.  Please view the NWQI webpage for more information, including the 2015 Focus Watershed.

Organic Initiative:  NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production.  Organic payment rates have been established for qualifying practices and are included in the current fiscal year EQIP Payment Schedule. 

State Priorities

Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, which are, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops. More than 500 high tunnels were planned for implementation in Kentucky through this Initiative since 2012. Please view the link to our Seasonal High Tunnel Brochure below for more information. 

Wildlife Initiative: The purpose of the Wildlife Initiative is to help participants develop fish and wildlife habitat on private agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land and Indian land. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to landowners and others to develop or enhance upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas on their property. 

Forestland Initiative: The 2008 Farm Bill placed increased emphasis on non-industrial private forestland that has been continued through the 2014 Farm Bill. The purpose of the Forestland Initiative is to focus on practices that will improve forest health; promote forest management; educate land users; and create enhance, and protect forestland bird habitat. 

Southeast Kentucky Early Successional Habitat Initiative (SEKESH):  The purpose of the Southeast Kentucky Early Successional Habitat Initiative is to establish fish and wildlife habitat on private agricultural land and nonindustrial private forestland in a highly forested area of the State with a large potential for early successional habitat improvement. Many wildlife species either depend on or greatly benefit from areas of young forest in proximity to older more mature forest stands. However, early successional habitats are generally lacking within the initiative area. Emphasis will be placed on forest stand improvement practices with the objective of creating or maintaining early successional forest habitat to benefit a suite of wildlife species. This initiative is available in the following Kentucky counties: Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Whitley, and Wolfe. 

Triplett Creek Watershed Initiative: This project is a multi-year partnership between the NRCS and the USFS to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems across the nation. The Triplett Creek Watershed area has had an increase in the occurrence of wildfires for the past 20 years.  Weather events have impacted the area as well causing a tree density that threatens the safety of firefighters.  A large part of the Triplett Creek Watershed is classified as Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) with private homes immediately adjacent to National Forest lands. 

The project will involve management of the private lands through the development of species specific canopy and creation of early successional habitat and edge feathering to benefit wildlife.  Timber stand improvement practices, woodland creation and grassland restoration will aid in restoring rare wildlife communities and improve the safety conditions for firefighters.  Project plans also include road maintenance in this area increasing firefighter and public access to the remote WUI areas. For more information, visit our section on the Triplett Creek Watershed Initiative.