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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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Introduction

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.

Accepting Applications

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: Get started with NRCS national page

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

Eligibility

Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.

Applicants must:  

  • Control or own eligible land
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI)  provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.

Note: Notification that starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance.

Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers

The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

West Virginia is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.

National and State Priorities

The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:

  1. Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  6. Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides and
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, West Virginia has identified the following priorities:

  1. Grazing management: fencing and stockwater systems
  2. Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  3. Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, upland wildlife habitat establishment

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in West Virginia, payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

The Local Work Group process and scoring criteria, are based on input from the counties in the Local Work Groups (LWG).

The priorities set at the state and county level are those that the STC and LWG respectively determined were of the greatest need and would have the greatest positive environmental impact. The scoring process at both the state and local level was developed in order to select those projects that would provide the greatest environmental benefit, and therefore provide the greatest public good.

West Virginia Program Information

West Virginia has 14 different Local Working Group areas for EQIP allocations and rankings. The areas range from 1 county to 6 counties and cover all of West Virginia’s 55 counties. The Local Working Groups are organized by the West Virginia Conservation District boundaries. In West Virginia, the Conservation Districts are based on the major watershed boundaries in the state.

Each Conservation District convened Local Working Group meetings to identify and prioritize their natural resource concerns which EQIP can address. The Local Working Groups included representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Conservation Districts, State Conservation Agency, Cooperative Extension, Dept. of Natural Resources, Dept. of Environmental Protection, US Fish and Wildlife, County officials, and other elected officials.

The Local Working Groups identified and prioritized the needed practices to address the resource concerns. The prioritized practice information was used to develop a ranking sheet to evaluate EQIP applications in the Local Working Group area. West Virginia has 14 different sets of ranking criteria, each addressing the local needs as identified by the Local Working Groups. Each Local Working Group also developed a cost list for practices to be cost shared in their Conservation District’s area. This information was submitted as the Local Working Group’s proposal for consideration by the State Technical Committee and the NRCS State Conservationist.  The NRCS State Conservationist makes the final decisions regarding EQIP implementation in the state.

A state allocation formula was used to allocate funds to each of the 14 areas. It includes a variety of factors that address items such as acres of grazing land, acres of cropland, number of unfunded applications, etc. These factors take into consideration national and state EQIP priorities and measures. The State Technical Committee reviews the state allocation formula and makes recommendations to the NRCS State Conservationist. Each of the 14 Local Working Groups will receive a funding allocation, based on the state allocation formula. There is no guarantee that every county will receive funding. Applications within the Conservation District will be ranked and funded based on the ranking criteria for that area. Land users in every county will have the opportunity to apply and compete for EQIP funding, but there will not be a county level allocation.

Fiscal Year 2019 EQIP Deadlines

West Virginia NRCS will establish ranking periods to evaluate and rank all applications received until the end of a given ranking period. Applications will be funded as ranked as far down the list as the funding will allow. A cut off date will be established by the NRCS state office as to when funds must be obligated. If a Local Working Groups funds are not obligated by this date, funds may be reallocated to other areas.

Period 1: Applications submitted by October 19, 2018 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2019. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

Period 2: The application cut-off for ranking period 2019-2 is January 18, 2019.  Eligible applications will be ranked by March 1, 2019.

Period 3: The application cut-off for ranking period 2019-3 is May 3, 2019. Eligible applications will be ranked by May 31, 2019.

To apply for EQIP, your local service center Get Started with NRCS - Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Learn how here.

West Virginia EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents  (9-19-2018)

Focused Conservation Approach 2019 Projects
These summaries are intended to provide an overview of local work group projects that were submitted to NRCS for funding through general EQIP allocations. The following projects were selected for such funding in fiscal year 2019, with potential obligations through fiscal year 2024. Within the following projects you will find two statuses: existing and new. The existing projects received funding allocations and had past enrollment; while new projects were submitted to the State Conservationist for consideration in FY 2019.

District

Funding Pools

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Capitol Conservation District

 

Invasive Species & Proper Grazing
(Existing)
Urban sprawl and industrialization has led to a lack of locally grown and available food in our region.A lapse in the transfer of knowledge typically handed down from generation to generation has led to a community that lacks the skills and land to produce their own food.This project will focus on implementation of high tunnel systems through NRCS programs and education, outreach, and training will be provided by Capitol Conservation District and WVU Extension.
Implementation of practices throughout Kanawha County would increase access to locally grown foods through the improvement of crop productivity, health, and vigor and reduction of wildlife crop damage on 20 properties over a 3 year period.

Ranking
(pdf 89kb)

Equine Manure Composting
(Existing)
Improper storage and over application of horse manure on pasture fields throughout Kanawha County negatively affects water quality and pasture quality. Composted manure is a valuable product that could be marketed and sold to reduce the nutrient loading on farm and diversify the farming operation. This project will address soil and water quality issues through implementation of grazing and nutrient management plans and construction of composting facilities.

Ranking
(pdf 91kb)

Monarch Butterfly Habitat Improvement
(New)
In conjunction with Guyan Conservation District
Monarch Butterflies have declined by 90% in the last 20 years due to degradation and loss of overwintering and breeding habitat, natural disease and predation, adverse weather, and ongoing decline of native milkweed. Intensifying agriculture, development of rural lands, and the use of mowing and herbicides to control vegetation have all reduced the abundance of the naturally occurring milkweeds and pollinating plants Monarch Butterflies rely on for food and habitat. USFWS has been petitioned to protect the Monarch Butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, this process is currently under review. This project would educate landowners on Monarch and pollinator habitat and reestablish and/or maintain that habitat. Project will cover Capitol and Guyan Conservation Districts.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) for Maple Syrup Production in Southern West Virginia
(New)
In conjunction with Guyan and Southern Conservation Districts
This pilot project in partnership with the WV Maple Syrup Producers is aimed at increasing plant productivity and health for syrup producing tree species and improving overall forest composition through the control of invasive species. Data from the WV Department of Agriculture 2012 census and the 2016 USDA Census of Agriculture show that maple syrup production has increased in the Mountain State from 8,804 taps in 2012 to 48,000 taps in 2016. This project proposal will gauge the interest and feasibility of incorporating Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) practices on 10 of the 75 farms currently producing syrup. Project will be offered in Capital, Guyan, and Southern Conservation Districts.

Ranking
pdf 87kb)

Eastern Panhandle Conservation District Cover Crops for Soil Health
(Existing)
The Eastern Panhandle Conservation District is comprised of Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson Counties. Within the district roughly 30,000 acres are annually planted row crops. The primary crops grown are corn, soybeans, and wheat. These crops are vital to the local agricultural economy. It is of utmost importance to maintain, if not, increase crop production, especially with growing population trends. As we know, crop yield and quality are directly related to the soils where they’re grown. As such this project will be promoted district wide. Ranking
Prescribed Grazing Systems
(Existing)
This proposal will address grazing land in 4 separate watersheds within the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District. Forage based livestock operations are a vital part of the agricultural economy in these watersheds. Sleepy Creek in Morgan County was selected because it is the major agricultural watershed in Morgan County. It is also is listed on the 303d list under section 319 of the Clean Water Act for fecal coliform. Primary agricultural industries are livestock (beef) and crop operations. Opequon Creek in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties was selected due to it also being on the 303d list under section 319 of the clean water act for nitrite and CNA-biological. It is also the largest agricultural watershed within Berkeley County. Primary agricultural industries are livestock (beef/ dairy) and crop operations. Back Creek in Berkeley County was selected for preventive purposes. There is currently a 319 watershed protection plan grant in place with WVDEP in hope that it will not be added to the 303d list. Primary agricultural industries are livestock (beef/dairy) and crop operations. Bullskin Run in Jefferson County was selected due to it also being on the 303D list. The entire length of the watershed, 13.1 miles, for fecal coliform and 4.6 miles for nitrite. Primary agricultural industries are livestock (beef/ dairy) and crop operations.

Ranking
(pdf 103kb)

Pollinators Systems
(Existing)
More than 150 apiaries are registered with the WVDA in the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District that includes Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties. Honey bees commonly feed on tree flowers, agricultural crops, and various wild flowers. The area is known for producing a wide variety of richly flavored honey. Although other pollinators exist, honeybees are the best and are critically important to agricultural yields locally. It’s estimated that honeybees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food you take. But their health is threatened on numerous fronts. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a mysterious ailment where bees simply disappear from their hives, never to be seen again. Scientists think there’s likely a combination of causes involved with CCD. However, diseases and parasite problems are already well-documented and just as problematic. With the growing number of apiaries in the Conservation District, as well as tree fruit and row crop production within the District, pollinators, especially honeybees, are of utmost importance. This proposal would cover all counties within the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District with the focus on creating, improving and maintaining proper pollinator habitat.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Partnership to Promote Water Quality Protection for Orchardists
(Existing)
In conjunction with Potomac Valley Conservation District
Berkeley, Hampshire, and Jefferson Counties are first, second, and third in tree fruit production, respectively, in the state. Successful production of tree fruit in these counties depends largely upon intensive use of pesticides to control insects, diseases and weeds that can potentially move off-target and contaminate ground and surface water. NRCS has designed programs to assist with protection of ground and surface water from pesticide contamination since 2012. Despite the above statistic, few orchards have taken advantage of such NRCS programs. West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service has the technical expertise required to develop IPM plans for willing producers. NRCS has the technical and financial means to provide funding to offset the producer’s cost with implementation of this BMP in addition to designing and encouraging adoption of Agrichemical Handling Facilities on orchards where needed. Utilization of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices can significantly reduce the amount of pesticide use without compromising the level of pest control. IPM practices, along with good Agrichemical Handling Facilities, where they can properly mix and store chemicals used on the farm, can have a positive impact on surface and ground water quality.

Ranking
(pdf 91kb)

Elk Conservation District Pollinator Habitat
(New)
Pollinators are an important part of not only fruit and vegetable agricultural systems but also the entire natural ecosystem as well. Upwards of 1/3 of all fruits and vegetables that we eat are reliant on insect pollinators, primarily bees, in order for them to be pollinated and produce fruit. Not only is pollination of fruits and vegetable important, but the production of honey from bees is also an important agriculture commodity. In recent years, it has been well documented the decline in honey bee, native bee, and butterfly populations due to various reasons, not the least of which is loss of habitat. With the increase in high tunnel, and standard vegetable production, as well as the increase in demand for locally grown produce and food (including honey), and pollinators in decline, there is a need to do something to try and enhance habitat for these species. Three of the 4 counties in our district have active bee keeping associations, and many of their member have requested assistance from us for this. Our goal will be to establish 75-100 acres of pollinator habitat throughout the entire district over the next 3 years, with the hope that if this is successful this project might be expanded further. All landowners will be eligible throughout the districts however, priority will be given to those with existing apiaries, or those commercially growing and selling fruit and vegetables.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Rotational Grazing Project
(New)
The project area will focus on the Elk, Little Kanawha, Gauley, and Meadow River watersheds in Braxton and Nicholas Counties only, excluding the watersheds of : These include Group 1: Right and Left Fork Steer Creek/Little Otter Creek/Big Otter Creek/Crooked Fork (Braxton/Clay Counties), Group 2: Muddlety/Big Beaver/Little Beaver (Nicholas/Webster Co.) and Group3: Deer Creek, Hominy Creek, and Meadow River direct drains (Nicholas Co.). in the Elk Conservation District, located in central WV. The area of the project selected by a meeting of the Local Work Group (LWG) on 6/5/2018. The focus was narrowed to this geographic region so be can be targeted in our work, but also to target areas not previously targeted by the similar FCA project from the past two years that was fairly successful. There are approximately 510 farms in the ECD comprised of approximately 109,000 total acres. Most of these are livestock farms with beef cattle, but there are some sheep and goats. The farms are nearly evenly scattered throughout the District.

Ranking
(pdf 94kb)

Greenbrier Valley Conservation District Meadow River Livestock Water
(Existing)
The project area is the 10-digit Meadow River Watershed in far western Greenbrier County. The Meadow River is a major tributary of the Gauley River, which it joins downstream from Summersville Lake. The Meadow River Wildlife Management Area is located within the watershed, as are the towns of Rainelle and Rupert and a few smaller communities. Participation in Farm Bill programs has traditionally been low in this watershed as compared to other parts of the county. A watershed-based plan was submitted from the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) to WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) in 2014. The plan lists runoff from grazed areas and livestock access to streams as significant contributors to fecal coliform impairment. The primary focus of this project proposal is to install livestock watering practices that will reduce the time livestock spend in or near a stream or ephemeral drainage. These practices will also have the intent of dispersing the livestock to avoid damage to sensitive areas from trampling and manure build up. While livestock water development and distribution is the primary goal, exclusion of livestock from water bodies such as streams, ponds and springs will be an essential practice to address water quality concerns. As alternative livestock water is developed, streams, ponds or springs which had been sources of livestock water will be excluded from livestock as the new approved livestock watering systems come are activated. The Local Working Group (LWG) has expressed their desire to deliver comprehensive conservation planning, especially at it pertains to exclusion of sensitive areas and facilitation of rotational grazing. Location of livestock water systems will be carefully planned to accommodate exclusion and pasture division fences to better distribute livestock grazing pressure and keep livestock away from sensitive areas.

Ranking
(pdf 97kb)

Ground Water Quality Impacts from Livestock
(Existing)
The Hillsboro area in southern Pocahontas County is a highly agricultural area on karst topography. Pocahontas County entered into an agreement with West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to develop a local plan to be filed as part of the state water resources management plan required by the Water Resources Protection and Management Act of 2008 (WV Code Chapter 22, Article 26). The county is the only one in the state of WV to do so. The proposed project area is a groundwater recharge basin (Stamping Creek watershed) identified in this plan as having high groundwater vulnerability. The town of Hillsboro and surrounding residents rely on wells in this basin to provide drinking water. The focus of the project proposal is to reduce risks to groundwater through the relocation of livestock feeding areas, construction of roofed feeding facilities designed to capture manure, construction of waste storage structures, implementation of nutrient management, creation of buffers around sensitive areas, and providing alternative livestock watering facilities.

Ranking
(pdf 95kb)

Central Indian Creek Livestock Water
(New)
The intent of the project is to exclude livestock from surface water and provide watering systems for affected livestock. The selected project area of Monroe County, WV is Central Indian Creek which consists of two HUC-12 watersheds: Rock Camp Creek - 050500020702 and Upper Indian Creek - 050500020703 within the Upper New River watershed. It was chosen by the Local Work Group because of karst topography and open surface streams that coexists with the resurgence of ground water. These are listed TMDL watersheds (WVKN-51-K and \WVKN-51-0) with organic enrichment biological stressors and TMDL developed for fecal coliform. WV DEP reports judge the agriculture intensity to be "high", with expectedly high load reduction values. The Local Working Group has chosen to provide primarily exclusion fencing and livestock water systems with this proposal but promises to do comprehensive conservation planning, especially as it pertains to exclusion of sensitive areas and facilitation of rotational grazing. Location of livestock water systems will be carefully planned to accommodate exclusion and pasture division fences that may be installed to better distribute livestock grazing pressure and exclude sensitive areas.

Ranking
(pdf 117kb)

Guyan Conservation District Local Foods Movement
(Existing)
In recent reports from the USDA, the Appalachian region has been categorized as a Food Desert. A Food Desert is a geographic area where affordable, nutritious food is hard to obtain. In addition, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists West Virginia as having one of the highest rates of obesity in the US at over 35%. As a result, the local food movement has become more popular in this district. Farmers markets and local food markets are increasing in the Huntington/ Charleston area but product is not readily available. Much of the land in the GCD is too steep for traditional agricultural operations. Scope of the project will be District-wide with a focused ranking on new customers and underserved counties- Boone, Logan, and Mingo. According to the Ag Census, this project will double the number of vegetable farms in the GCD and in underserved counties (Boone, Logan, and Mingo), this project will result in five times more vegetable farms.

Ranking
(102kb)

Soil Health on Overgrazed Pasture
(Existing)
Grazing lands throughout the district are generally over-stocked and as a result are overgrazed and pastures have poor soil health. Most areas exceed the acceptable soil loss of a given soil due to animal trails and heavily used areas by livestock. In addition, livestock water location limits farmer’s ability to utilize areas of pasture. Grazing land on high ridges are under- grazed, while lower pastures near streams are overgrazed. These concerns are widespread throughout the GCD. Practices installed through this project will increase forage production, provide rest periods, supply alternative water sources and result in an overall increase of soil health. This project will be focused in the sub-watersheds that drain in the Ohio River: Heath Creek, Indian Creek, Symmes Creek, Twelvepole Creek, and Whites Creek.

Ranking
(pdf 94kb)

Monarch Butterfly Habitat Improvement
(New)
In conjunction with Capitol Conservation District
Monarch Butterflies have declined by 90% in the last 20 years due to degradation and loss of overwintering and breeding habitat, natural disease and predation, adverse weather, and ongoing decline of native milkweed. Intensifying agriculture, development of rural lands, and the use of mowing and herbicides to control vegetation have all reduced the abundance of the naturally occurring milkweeds and pollinating plants Monarch Butterflies rely on for food and habitat. USFWS has been petitioned to protect the Monarch Butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, this process is currently under review. This project would educate landowners on Monarch and pollinator habitat and reestablish and/or maintain that habitat. Project will cover Capitol and Guyan Conservation Districts.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) for Maple Syrup Production in Southern West Virginia
(New)
In conjunction with Capitol and Southern Conservation Districts
This pilot project in partnership with the WV Maple Syrup Producers is aimed at increasing plant productivity and health for syrup producing tree species and improving overall forest composition through the control of invasive species. Data from the WV Department of Agriculture 2012 census and the 2016 USDA Census of Agriculture show that maple syrup production has increased in the Mountain State from 8,804 taps in 2012 to 48,000 taps in 2016. This project proposal will gauge the interest and feasibility of incorporating Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) practices on 10 of the 75 farms currently producing syrup. Project will be offered in Capital, Guyan, and Southern Conservation Districts.

Ranking
(pdf 87kb)

Little Kanawha Conservation District Eastern Meadowlark Habitat
(Existing)
Eastern Meadowlarks are a declining species, and is listed as a species in greatest need of conservation in the West Virginia State Wildlife Action Plan. The North American Breeding Bird Survey shows a severe range wide decline estimated at between 2. 9 percent and 14.8 percent per year from 1966 to 2010. Cumulative loss to population numbers may be as high as 75 percent during that time. The main causes of the decline in the population have been identified as: intensification and modernization of farming practices promoting earlier and more frequent haying during the nesting season, which results in low breeding success; reforestation of abandoned farmland and urbanization, high rate of nest predation, and overgrazing pastures. Practices installed through this project will be used as demonstration projects and the data collected throughout this project will be used to develop a habitat planning criteria for Eastern Meadowlarks for the West Virginia Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Technique. This project is offered District-wide.

Ranking
(pdf 100kb)

Over Grazed and Over Stocked Pastures
(Existing)
A large number of the pastures are over stocked and therefore over grazed. This causes excessive soil erosion, promotes undesirable species, decreases wildlife habitat and reduced animal productivity. Overgrazing is failure to move or rotate animals where there is forage growth. Proper grazing management is a matter of moving animals before they have the opportunity to re-graze lush regrowth. Practices will be installed to increase forage production, provide rest periods and supply alternative water sources. The Local Work Group identified the following watersheds for this project: Middle Little Kanawha River, West Fork of the Kanawha River, and Pond Creek for this project based on the number of agricultural operations in those area and the high percentage of those areas are over stocked.

Ranking
(pdf 104kb)

Wood Thrush Habitat
(Existing)
Wood Thrush are doing poorly throughout most of their range. Since 1970, 60 % of the total population has been lost. In West Virginia since 1986, the population has decreased 29%. The population decrease is a result of the maturation of forests resulting in less early successional habitat. The Wood Thrush is listed as a species in greatest need of conservation in the West Virginia State Wildlife Action Plan. This concern is spread throughout the District and can be evaluated by doing population surveys. This resource concern is spread throughout the district however the most suitable habitat improvement based on population would be in Wood County.

Ranking
(pdf 92kb)

Monarch Butterfly
(New)
The monarch is one of the most familiar butterflies in North America, known for its annual, multi-generational migration from overwintering sites in central Mexico and coastal California to as far north as Canada. Populations of the black-and-orange butterfly have decreased significantly over the past two decades, in part because of the decrease in native plants like milkweed – the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars. The LKCD lies in part of the migration route use by the monarchs and is also within the spring breeding range.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Monongahela Conservation District Pollinator Enhancement
(Existing)
*This project was re-submitted in 2018 with a change in scope to include Monongalia and Preston Counties. Resulting in a district-wide effort. Pollinators are an integral part of our environment and vital for our agricultural systems. The area for this pollinator project to address plant health and adaptability is Marion County (with the addition of Monongalia and Preston). Partners are the Marion, Mon, and Preston County Beekeepers Associations and the WVU Extension Service. Goals are to establish a marketing plan, garner input on planting size needed in given area, evaluate types of plants most needed, etc. Practices may include forage and biomass planting, fence, conservation cover, critical area planting, nutrient management, brush control and tree planting. Pollinator food plots will be established close to orchards, truck crop farms and honey bee colonies. The goal will be to establish 200 acres of combined renovated and new plantings in Marion, Mon, and Preston County.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Animal Waste
(Existing)
Loss of manure from winter feeding sites during precipitation events occurs throughout the Big Sandy Creek and Muddy Creek Watersheds. Comprehensive Nutrient Management (CNMP) plans are required for construction of waste storage facilities. Applicants will need to develop CNMP’s. Three applications have CNMP’s developed and are ready for structures to be constructed. These structures will be used for a field day as examples for the steps in completing a CNMP to construction activities. Water quality concern for excess nutrients in surface water was identified by the local work group. An estimated 604 farms are located in the proposal area; 500 farms have crop and pasture land uses. Crop and Pasture account for 40% of the land use acreage (25,800 acres) and are equally divided. Forest, Headquarters, and Associated Ag Land make up the remaining 60% of the acreage. Cattle are the predominate livestock. The average per capita income is $23,739 and 17% of the population are below the poverty level.

Ranking
(pdf 100kb)

Locally Grown Food
(Existing)
The project area includes Preston County. Attendees of the Local Work Group meetings selected the area which covers approximately 649 square miles, or 415,235 acres with an approximate population of 33,940 people. The identified county contains 1,084 farms. The area is rural and you must travel some distance to the local grocery store. This projects goal is to help increase the number of farmers growing truck crops and help increase farmer’s markets. WVU Extension is currently working in increase the number of farmers markets and Preston County Schools already participate in the Farm to School Program.

Ranking
(102kb)

Stockpiling Forage and Hay Distribution
(New)
The scope of this project will be to provide alternative methods to address resource concerns caused by livestock winter feeding operations. Low-cost management practices will be utilized instead of high cost structural feed barns and animal waste storage systems. Techniques such as stockpiling forages for winter grazing and hay distribution will be utilized as management practices to reduce confinement periods of livestock during the winter months. Temporary electric fencing and intensive grazing techniques would also be utilized to improve management of winter feeding. Portions of the Monongahela Conservation District (MCD) eligible for this focus effort will include the Outlet Buffalo Creek watershed in Marion County, Paw Paw Creek watershed in Marion and Monongalia Counties, Indian Creek and Scotts Run - Monongahela River watersheds in Monongalia County, and the Little Sandy Creek and Left Fork - Sandy Creek watersheds in Preston County. The boundaries of these watersheds are identified by the 12 digit USGS Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC). Refer to the attached maps for locations. It is the intent of this project to fund applications that have a suite of practices that will improve winter feeding of livestock through management practices. There are approximately 600 grassland farms within the identified focus area according to FSA records. It is estimated that 75% of these farms are not properly managing their grasslands. This project was chosen because the majority of resource concerns identified in the MCD Long Range Plan revolve around improper grassland management. The focus area was selected based on the correlation between state listed impaired streams and concentration of farming operations. A majority of these watersheds are impaired due to high levels of fecal coliform, predominately attributed to livestock manures entering the stream from poor grazing and winter feeding management. Improvements to stream quality will benefit all aquatic wildlife including state protected mussels. Federally listed endangered Running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum) may also occur in this area whose habitat would be improved through livestock exclusion of woodlands.

Ranking
(pdf 111kb)

Northern Panhandle Conservation District Locally Grown Food
(Existing)
*This project was re-submitted in 2018 with a change in scope to include Marshall County. Resulting in a district-wide effort. The project area includes Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio counties (with the addition of Marshall). Attendees of the Local Work Group meetings selected the area which covers approximately 185,080 (+85,966) acres with a population of 99,188 (+ 31,793) people. The identified counties contain 389 (+682) farms. The area is home to a growing “locally grown” food movement with 16 established farmer’s markets. Pollinator plantings will help increase the pollination within high tunnels. The Farm to School Initiative is active in Marshall County and the high tunnels could help provide more fresh local produce to the local school system.

Ranking
(102kb)

Soil Health/Grazing
(Existing)
*This project was re-submitted in 2018 with a change in scope to include Buffalo and Grave Creek Watersheds The project will be focused in the Buffalo Creek and Grave Creek Watersheds along with Wheeling Creek Watershed. Attendees at the Northern Panhandle Local Work Group meetings established this area. The attendees provided input as to the delineation of the area as well as the resource concerns most needing attention. The Buffalo Watershed covers approximately 32,040 acres in West Virginia, there are 71 farms and they average 61 acres in size. The Grave Creek Watershed covers approximately 47,798 acres and has 237 farms that average 80 acres in size. Land cover throughout the two watersheds is hay/pasture is 4479 acres and cultivated crops make up 852 acres. The agriculture industry in this area consists mainly of beef cattle production. There are a handful of dairies, and there are growing numbers of producers growing truck crops. This project will assist with the adoption of new or improved grazing systems, forage testing, and the use of stockpiled forages. By better utilizing these management tools, cooperators will see improvements to pasture and hayland forage quality and soil health, better livestock nutrition, and extended grazing periods. Inputs on these operations will be reduced, thus improving environmental conditions and increasing returns to the producers. Cooperators will ultimately become better managers with more sustainable operations.

Ranking
(pdf 509kb)

Pollinator Enhancement
(New)
Pollinators are an integral part of our environment and are vital for our agricultural systems. The pollinator emphasis to address plant health and adaptability will occur in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Ohio Counties. We will work with the Tri-State Beekeepers Association and with WVU Extension Service to establish a marketing plan, receive input on size/acreage needed in a given area, evaluate types of plants most needed, etc. Practices may include forage and biomass planting, fence, conservation cover, critical area planting, nutrient management, brush control, tree planting, and riparian herbaceous cover, among others. Target locations for establishing pollinator plantings will be close to orchards, truck crop farms, and honey bee colonies/farms. An estimated 50 combined acres of new plantings and improved or renovated pollinator foraging and nesting vegetation would be established in each county.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Potomac Valley Conservation District Improving Soil Health through Better Grazing Management (Hampshire County)
(Existing)
Pastureland makes up ~26% of all of Hampshire County farmland acreage, with the greatest majority of farms being small in size (10-49 acres). Great opportunity exists to reach livestock producers to educate them about the practice of rotational grazing and the positive soil health impacts that can be realized in addition to the production benefits. While there has been several past and current EQIP contracts that assist with the infrastructure necessary to implement these grazing systems, a focused approach will enable FO staff to target producers who are more interested in a change of management instead of just getting funding to install more fencing or water systems. Additionally, this project proposal will require both pre and post Haney Soil Testing that will measure various parameters and assign a “soil health condition score.” While many factors will be difficult to change over a relatively short time period, this information will be a great teaching tool for producers and NRCS staff alike. Additionally, the Pasture Condition Score Sheet will be used at the onset of the farm planning phase and prior to contract closeout to determine whether any benefits were realized.

Ranking
(pdf 104kb)

Enhancing Riparian Corridors, Encouraging Natural Stream Restoration and Promoting Trout Habitat
(Existing)
Patterson Creek and New Creek Watersheds are both drains to the North Branch of the Potomac River (02070002) that have known isolated patches of native brook trout. While past CBWI efforts focused on water quality improvements in the Patterson Creek Watershed given it’s TMDL, a concerted effort to promote riparian buffer creation and natural stream restoration was not included in that effort. Patterson Creek is one of the watersheds in the county that has relatively high agricultural activity. In contrast, New Creek Watershed has never received the benefit of targeted NRCS funds. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has found young of the year brook trout within the main stem of New Creek during recent electroshocking surveys. The agricultural presence in this watershed is less, but does consist of smaller, livestock based operations; participation in this watershed has been lacking. It is hoped that by focusing on two distinct HUC12 watersheds within the North Branch of the Potomac, we can target outreach efforts to reach new landowners while realizing a positive cumulative benefit as we address streambank erosion, sedimentation, lack of adequate aquatic habitat/structure, exclusion of livestock and creation of appropriate riparian cover for two watersheds that have garnered the attention of WVDNR, Trout Unlimited and others (TMDL’s) as a valuable water resource in need of environmental conservation efforts.

Ranking
(pdf 109kb)

Stream Restoration
(Existing)
The project will focus on addressing resource concerns on high quality tributaries, and select main stem priority locations, on the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River (North Fork) in Grant and Pendleton Counties in West Virginia. This watershed contains high quality waters of exceptional ecological value (Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture 2011, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Tier 3 List), coupled with areas of significant resource concern resulting from land management practices associated with post flood recovery activities, agriculture, timber harvest, and development. Each of the aforementioned have contributed to stream bank and soil erosion, degraded in-stream and riparian habitat, impaired water quality, amplified nutrient inputs, and aquatic organism passage barriers. The North Fork has been the focus of significant conservation efforts from a variety of partners; the local community is heavily involved in the restoration effort, and multiple conservation project complexes have been established from which the effort can expand. The North Fork and its tributaries are identified as a priority for stream and riparian restoration in the Potomac Valley Conservation District’s (PVCD) Long Range Plan.

Ranking
(pdf 102kb)

CNMP Implementation to Protect Water Quality on Livestock Farms
(Existing)
This project seeks to target the most critical resource concerns identified in Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP’s) for livestock operations in the Potomac Valley Conservation District in order to protect water quality and prevent soil erosion. FO staff have contracted with approximately 20 producers in the counties to have a Technical Service Provider (TSP) complete the planning process to produce a CNMP document. Many producers chose to feed in environmentally-sensitive areas as a matter of convenience or accessibility. If there are no other suitable locations or methods, often a waste storage facility is constructed to capture most of the waste generated. Waste is then stored until it can be properly applied according to an approved CNMP and its recommended best solution for the resource concern. Other times, the producer has enough land, suitable soils/slopes, and equipment available to store feed in strategic locations throughout the farm and move the feeding locations daily to distribute nutrients and prevent denuded vegetation. All aspects and potential solutions to the identified concern are addressed in the CNMP and this proposal will provide the continued technical and financial assistance to see those plans implemented. Projects will be prioritized using the attached “Risk Assessment for Water Quality Impairment from Animal Concentration Areas” document. This document could prove useful on a statewide NRCS basis to provide a quantitative way of documenting resource concerns associated with animal feeding operations (AFO’s). The FCA will “field test” the method and make necessary updates. Any structural practices planned will also require protection of streams and all environmentally-sensitive areas, if present. To ensure that proper waste storage also facilitates proper nutrient management application, all contracts will have a three years of 590 nutrient management payment in the year following the installation of the structure. Without this proposal, the completed CNMP’s have the danger of becoming just a “plan on a shelf” – this project seeks to fund these “shovel ready projects” to protect the resource base.

Ranking
(pdf 119kb)

CNMP Implementation on Farms Utilizing Poultry Manure
(Existing)
The project area covers all five counties of the Potomac Valley Conservation District (PVCD): Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton. The revenue from poultry products and the local industry is essential to the economic stability of the PVCD area (the top 3 ranked counties in the state for poultry products is in the district). These five counties are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and have TMDL regulations for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. To meet the 2025 targets set by the EPA for nutrient reductions in the Bay drainage area of West Virginia, it is crucial to address the issues of poultry litter storage and application. Many farms in the PVCD have high soil levels of phosphorus, and regularly apply poultry litter. Many of these same soils have a high leaching index, resulting in potential nutrient loading into sensitive waterways. Surrounding states have more stringent nutrient management requirements; and while the revised NRCS 590 (Nutrient Management) standard has lessened the soil P threshold, NRCS should be encouraging the implementation of CNMP’s to proactively avoid the need for stronger regulation in WV. We are seeing an expansion of the poultry industry in our district and this proposal would ensure new producers start off following and implementing BMPs to mitigate negative impacts associated with animal waste. Three years of 590-Nutrient Management will be included in every contract following the installation of all practices to ensure adherence to the CNMP.

Ranking
(pdf 100kb)

Water Quality Improvement
(Existing)
This project will concentrate on addressing soil and water quality resource concerns in two small watersheds, Edwards Run (4550 acres) and Dillons Run (12680 acres), located in central Hampshire County, WV. This project would be the first concerted effort in these watersheds to meet the Long Range Plan’s goals for water quality and brook trout habitat improvement. These watersheds are primarily forested (81.5% and 89.5% of total land cover, respectively); however, agricultural land use (16% and 9%, respectively, of total land use) is concentrated along riparian areas. This concentration of agricultural practices has resulted in increased stream temperatures, stream bank instability, and impaired riparian conditions. These watersheds are of special interest to an assortment of Federal, State, and private partners because of high-quality springs and ground water/surface water interchanges that supply abundant cold, clean water. These streams not only supply agricultural producers with clean water for their farming operations, but Edwards Run also provides the town of Capon Bridge with its municipal water. Currently, the lack of riparian buffers, improper storage of manure, and poor grazing management practices are impairing both water and soil quality. Livestock access to riparian areas and poorly located feed lots are contributing to amplified nutrient inputs, and temperature monitors deployed by the WVDNR have shown evidence that a lack of tree cover along streams is resulting in regular temperature spikes during summer rain events. Together these impacts are resulting in substantially diminished water quality.

Ranking
(pdf 114kb)

Local Foods Initiative (Mineral County)
(Existing)
In 2007, Mineral County topped all counties in the state for vegetables harvested at 215 acres “in the open.” By the 2012 Ag Census, they were ranked at number 5 in the state with only 145 acres being harvested. Mineral County Development Authority has recognized this shift, and one of their key focuses is to advance the opportunities for agricultural enterprises. The potential to expand local markets for Mineral County producers is great. Keyser hosts Potomac State College, with students and faculty interested in buying local and being a clearinghouse for information. Mineral County has eight schools that will receive free lunch in the 2017-2018 school year given the designation of 40% or greater of the students as “needy” by USDA guidelines. The BOE would like to expand their current Farm to School program to provide the freshest, most nutritious meals possible to these students. Finally, the county boasts an active Farmer’s Market Association and the need for additional produce is noted, as demand is over current supply. The goal of this proposal is to install practices to enable Mineral County producers to increase amount of produce available for local consumption. Farmers could benefit from marketing their products to Mineral County Board of Education, restaurants willing to purchase local produce, and the general public, while improving their production systems through NRCS technical and financial assistance. Environmental benefits to be realized include improvement of plant quality and soil quality and reduction in nutrient and pesticide transport.

Ranking
(102kb)

Local Foods Initiative (Grant, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties)
(Existing)
The project area includes Hardy, Grant and Pendleton counties of the Potomac Valley Conservation District. This is a strongly agricultural area, holding the first, second, and fourth highest value of agricultural products in the state. There are 1536 farms within the area for a total of 437,801 acres. There is increasing interest in high tunnels for vegetable production in the area from both long time participants and new participants. They benefit not only the producers but the surrounding communities by providing local food to everyone, especially lower income and aging populations. A Farm-to-School program exists with a few producers but could be strengthened through increased local production. By increasing the amount of locally grown produce there is also an increase in farmers markets that support the local economy. There are currently 6 farmers markets/cooperatives and produce stands in the area, as far south as Franklin, centrally located in Petersburg, and in Moorefield and Wardensville to the north, as well as several privately-owned operations in the Moorefield area. Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, located in Moorefield, has identified high tunnel systems as a means of boosting the local economy and improving the quality of rural life in the area.

Ranking
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Improving Soil Health through Better Grazing Management (Mineral County)
(Existing)
Many producers in Mineral County could benefit from purchasing hay and using their limited acreage for grazing. When considering the cost of maintaining haying equipment, purchasing hay is often more economical. If acreage is available, stockpiling for fall/winter grazing could prove beneficial to the farm’s bottom line while having several resource benefits. Stockpiling forages means less emissions from using equipment to harvest hay for storage for winter feeding. Additionally, livestock manures aren’t deposited near the supplemental feed, so that livestock are distributing their manure and not creating concentrated areas devoid of vegetation (erosion) and excess nutrients. Finally, stockpiling allows seed heads in late summer to fall and help reseed pastures – creating a better forage system. When winter supplementing is necessary, steps can be taken to lessen the environmental impact. Staff have observed few producers unrolling hay for proper hay distribution as part of a grazing system to address winter feeding management. This proposal will offer the 511 Forage Harvest Management as a component of the overall grazing management strategy. In the past, winter feeding management has been treated independently of the grazing season – this proposal will offer producers a plan covering all 365 days of the calendar year, with the primary focus still being proper management of the forage during the grazing season. Planning efforts may focus on use of temporary fencing and portable watering systems to allow for more intensive grazing with less economic output for infrastructure. Environmentally-sensitive areas will be inventoried and planning efforts will strive to exclude livestock from those areas. This project proposal will require both pre and post Haney Soil Testing that will measure various parameters and assign a “soil health condition score.” Participating farms will agree to permit NRCS Area Soil Scientist to compare Soil Haney test results with the Soil Health Field kit analysis as an educational tool for other field teams. While many factors will be difficult to change over a relatively short time period, this information will be a great teaching tool for producers and NRCS staff alike. Additionally, the Pasture Condition Score Sheet will be used at the onset of the farm planning phase and prior to contract closeout to determine whether any benefits were realized.

Ranking
(pdf 104kb)

Improving Plant and Soil Health through Pasture Management
(Existing)
This project covers three of the five counties in the Potomac Valley Conservation District. Grant, Hardy and Pendleton counties account for 152,866 acres (74%) of pastureland in the PVCD. The majority of the 1,536 farms in these three counties range from 50 to 499 acres in size. Grant, Hardy and Pendleton Counties rank within the top 4 counties in West Virginia for value of livestock, poultry and their products. Education and implementation of Pastureland BMP’s is strongly needed to meet and exceed state TMDL goals for these counties within the Chesapeake Bay drainage. Interpretation of the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) indicates that pasture contribution to excess Nitrogen is around 20% of the total, or nearly a million pounds per year. There has been interest shown by past participants for guidance and technical assistance in the areas of soil health, pasture management and rotational grazing. Focus for this proposal will be on educational methods such as one-on-one field discussions, area-wide programs and field days, and improved management techniques, followed with the installation of permanent and/or vegetative practices to complement the guidance provided. The goal is educating producers on the principles of rotational grazing, increased forage production, providing rest periods, alternative water sources and excluding/restricting livestock access to woodland and streams.

Ranking
(pdf 113kb)

Partnership to Promote Water Quality Protection for Orchardists
(Existing)
In conjunction with Eastern Panhandle Conservation District
Berkeley, Hampshire, and Jefferson Counties are first, second, and third in tree fruit production, respectively, in the state. Successful production of tree fruit in these counties depends largely upon intensive use of pesticides to control insects, diseases and weeds that can potentially move off-target and contaminate ground and surface water. NRCS has designed programs to assist with protection of ground and surface water from pesticide contamination since 2012. Despite the above statistic, few orchards have taken advantage of such NRCS programs. West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service has the technical expertise required to develop IPM plans for willing producers. NRCS has the technical and financial means to provide funding to offset the producer’s cost with implementation of this BMP in addition to designing and encouraging adoption of Agrichemical Handling Facilities on orchards where needed. Utilization of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices can significantly reduce the amount of pesticide use without compromising the level of pest control. IPM practices, along with good Agrichemical Handling Facilities, where they can properly mix and store chemicals used on the farm, can have a positive impact on surface and ground water quality.

Ranking
(pdf 91kb)

Ruffed Grouse Habitat Initiative
(New)
The WV DNR lists Ruffed Grouse as “A Priority 1 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in their State Wildlife Action Plan. This designation indicates that Ruffed Grouse is a species that would have the greatest benefit and response from immediate conservation actions/measures taken. The LWG notes the efforts of conservation groups trying to ensure adequate habitat for Ruffed Grouse, and other at-risk species, such as the Cerulean Warbler, within the PVCD. WVNRCS is having good success with their partnership with the Wild Turkey Federal to make a concerted effort to improve habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, with many projects started in the district. Similar collaboration between stakeholders with a targeted approach for species could prove beneficial for the long-range sustainability of ruffed grouse. NRCS Field staff, with assistance from stakeholders, are equipped to make habitat improvement recommendations for a targeted approach at restoring Ruffed Grouse habitat. The practice of clear-cutting in our woodlands has become less commonplace, resulting in less habitat suitable for species such as the ruffed grouse, which prefer early successional growth. The LWG recognizes the decline of this species as a priority for the district. The WVNRCS, along with the WVDNR and the Ruffed Grouse Society have identified the ruffed grouse as a species that could directly benefit from a list of common practices offered by the NRCS. It is our goal through this proposal to offer a list of scientifically proven habitat manipulation practices for private landowners through the design work and conservation efforts offered by the NRCS and the listed stakeholders to greatly improve the amount and quality of available habitat to help mitigate the decline of the ruffed grouse in the Potomac Valley. Additionally, the habitat preferred by the ruffed grouse is considered to be a “blanket habitat” that overlaps with various other significant wildlife species such as wild turkey FCA Project Proposal for Potomac Valley Conservation District: Ruffed Grouse Initiative 2 and a list of neotropical birds. We believe that the proposal being offered is not only a scientific approach to ruffed grouse habitat creation, but it is also a practical approach for private landowners to take part in on-the-ground conservation efforts and expertise offered by the NRCS and its stakeholders.

Ranking
(pdf 101kb)

Southern Conservation District Summers County Grassland
(Existing)
The goal of the Project is to implement grassland conservation practices and improved management of the participant’s farms within the project area resulting in 30 farms and 3000 acres having a pasture condition score of 40 or above at the end of 3 years. The area to be considered is South of the Greenbrier River and Rt. 3, West of the New River and North of Wolf Creek and Rt 12 through Forest Hill. According to the Farm Service Agency, the area selected has approximately 125 farms with an average farm size of approximately 150 acres, with most of the farms draining to either the New River, the Greenbrier River or Wolf Creek. Out of approximately 125 farms in this area, approximately 60 need grassland assistance, and with a 50% participation rate, the goal is to get 30 farms to a pasture condition score of 40. This area is moderate to steep slopes on the pasture, with a lot of the pastures overstocked. There are farms with critical areas causing severe erosion that needs addressed. Inadequate water and poor forage quality are issues within this area. For the most part, the pastures in this area are not being managed according NRCS prescribed grazing standards. Winter feeding is a major concern in this area with most of the feeding operations taking place close to water bodies or in areas that drain into streams. One goal of this project will be to develop rotational winter feeding plans on these farms and extended grazing systems. With Fescue being the predominant forage in this area, extended grazing systems would be an asset to these operations, as well as protecting the water systems surrounding the operations. These resource concerns will be the basis for this project. Summers County is the least populated county in the District, but, it ranks second in the District with 25.8% of the population at the poverty level based on income. This is an important statistic for this project, because there are farmers in the area who are trying and want to reach the ultimate level of grazing on their operations, but lack the resources to accomplish the goal. This project will get these landowners the assistance needed to maximize and conserve the farm’s natural resources and assist landowners in following prescribed grazing standard.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Pollinator Enhancement
(Existing)
Pollinators are an important part of the agricultural system as well as the entire environment. Pollination of agricultural commodity crops as well as honey production is an important part of the food chain. Establishing Pollinator habitat will increase production of crops as well as enhancing a growing honey business in the Southern District. Currently there are approximately 275 registered producers of honey in the district according to County Bee Keepers Associations. There is also an increase in high tunnels and Farmer's Markets, making pollination a critical element in production. Our goal is to establish 100 acres of pollinator habitat in the Southern District. We will focus on Apiaries and landowners with high tunnels. Each site will be evaluated according to existing pollinator habitat, if any, and the project will focus on filling in gaps in habitat. The WV Pollinator handbook and Xerxes society publications will be used as guides to fulfill the project criteria. Partners for this project are County Bee Keepers Associations, WVU Extension Service, and WVDA. Practices may include Conservation Cover, Forage and Biomass planting, tree and shrub establishment, and fence to name a few. Pollinator food plots will be established close to orchards, honey bee colonies and High Tunnels.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Fayette County Grassland
(Existing)
The proposed project area encompasses the northern most and eastern most region of Fayette County, WV. Fayette County is one of the six counties comprising the Southern Conservation District. The project area is largely drained by the Meadow, Gauley and New River watersheds, all WVDNR listed High Quality streams. The proposed Project area is defined as that region of Fayette County cast of State Route 41. There are approximately 75 farms in the project area with an average farm size of 100 acres. Of the approximately 75 farms, it is estimated that approximately one-half of them need treatment. Of these, there is an expected participation rate of 60% over the three-year project period, leading to 30 contracts. Sixty percent of all these farms are operated by part-time operators. A significant number of farm operators meet the requirements for both Limited Resource Farmers and Beginning Farmers. Winter feeding areas and concentrated livestock areas are a major resource concern in the proposed project area, greater than 5% of pastures are used for winter feeding and by visual assessment of pastures, these pastures have a fair condition score of 30 or less, meaning they are overgrazed and have little cover. These will be addressed by implementation of practices to improve winter feeding area management, such as rotational winter feeding program and stockpiling of forages. 25% of the farms have concerns with soil erosion from critical areas within pasture boundaries and soil erosion can be a resource concern on these areas. The goal of the Project is to implement grassland conservation practices and improved management of participant's farms within the Project area resulting in each operation being brought up to the RMS level and a pasture condition score of 40 for the grassland resource during all seasons of production.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) for Maple Syrup Production in Southern West Virginia
(New)
In conjunction with Capitol and Guyan Conservation Districts
This pilot project in partnership with the WV Maple Syrup Producers is aimed at increasing plant productivity and health for syrup producing tree species and improving overall forest composition through the control of invasive species. Data from the WV Department of Agriculture 2012 census and the 2016 USDA Census of Agriculture show that maple syrup production has increased in the Mountain State from 8,804 taps in 2012 to 48,000 taps in 2016. This project proposal will gauge the interest and feasibility of incorporating Forest Stand Improvement (FSI) practices on 10 of the 75 farms currently producing syrup. Project will be offered in Capital, Guyan, and Southern Conservation Districts.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

Tygarts Valley Conservation District Water Quality in Pecks Run and Teter Creek
(Existing)
The Tygarts Valley Conservation District (TVCD) Local Work Group chose the Peck’s Run and Teter Creek watersheds as project areas. This decision was largely driven by the potential in these watersheds for agricultural runoff causing nonpoint source pollution to streams. Additionally, using Customer Service Toolkit and Farm Service Agency records, we plotted our 2017 EQIP applicants in GIS by farm tract and there are concentrations of cooperators within both project areas. While outreach will be an important project component, the LWG felt the presence of current applicants may help increase the potential for participation. Moreover, for reasons described below, it may be possible to reach beginning farmers and military veterans in these areas. And lastly, based on an analysis integrating LANDFIRE’s (2009) Biophysical Settings (BpS) model which predicts pre-European Settlement vegetative conditions and the National Land Cover Data set (NLCD, 2011), we propose that implementing riparian forest buffers in many places within these watersheds will engage this project in the restoration of those areas to their original condition. Peck’s Run has an area of 25,851 acres. The most abundant soil within this boundary is Gilpin (31%). The second most frequent is a Gilpin-Dekalb complex and the third is a Gilpin-Upshur complex (19% and 14% respectively). As is common in WV, many of these units indicate steepness which is an important factor when considering infiltration, interflow and surface runoff. According to census data (Census Tracts with Population Data, 2010), there are young people (ages 20-34) living in the area of Peck’s Run. Moreover, according to the American Community Survey (ACS, 2014), it is estimated that there are military veterans living in the proximity as well. While our watershed boundaries do not precisely match those of the census tracts, the presence of young people, coupled with the existence of veterans, increases the potential for reaching historically underserved (HU) populations. Additionally, there is the potential to restore riparian areas to their pre-European Settlement condition on Peck’s Run. Teter Creek consists of 33,911 total acres. The dominant soil mapped there is Gilpin (26%). A Gilpin-Dekalb complex is the second most abundant at 16%, and Dekalb is third at 15%. Similar to Peck’s Run, many of the slope classes are steep, a major rainfall runoff factor. There are some current applicants on Teter Creek, and there may also be the opportunity to reach some of the HU population due to the presence of young people between the ages of 20-34 and military veterans. And, as is the case with Peck’s Run, there is the possibility of restoration of riparian areas to their historic state.

Ranking
(pdf 127kb)

Grazing Land with Pollinator Benefits
(Existing)
The Local Work Group (LWG) in the Tygarts Valley Conservation District (TVCD) has identified Upshur County as the project area for Grazing Land with Pollinator Benefits. This county largely participates in the Agricultural Enhancement Program for the TVCD. Plant condition on grazed lands/presence of invasive species of brush and inadequate pollinator habitat are the overarching resource concerns establishing this as a priority. Addressing these resource concerns will not only help mitigate the well-known decline in pollinators, but will simultaneously improve pasture condition and provide a variety of other ecosystem services to local residents and beyond. The majority of livestock farms in Upshur County are pasture-based cattle farms. The plant/forage health of pastures is low, impacted highly by the presence of invasive species. Many of our producers are also concerned with pollinator habitat, so the main idea behind this project proposal is to improve pasture health by removing brush/invasive species, re-seeding to obtain desirable species of forage (for example - legumes/clovers), and at the same time, encourage producers to seed forages that are desirable to both livestock and pollinators. Prescribed grazing plans will be necessary with these producers to implement a grazing system that is beneficial to the livestock while getting maximum benefit for pollinators as well. Establishment of legumes/clovers will be a major tool to accomplish improved forage health and pollinator habitat. Education to land managers with this project will be essential in obtaining the desired outcome – implementing proper stocking rates and rotational grazing schedules will be necessary, not only from a livestock standpoint, but for allowing pollinators to utilize the pastures/habitat as much as possible.

Ranking
(pdf 112kb)

Stockpiling Forage and Hay Distribution Initiative
(New)
The scope of this project will be to provide alternative methods to address resource concerns caused by livestock winter feeding operations. Low-cost management practices will be utilized instead of structural feed barns and animal waste storage systems. Techniques such as stockpiling forages for winter grazing and hay distribution will be utilized as management practices to reduce confinement periods of livestock during the winter months. Temporary electric fencing and intensive grazing techniques would also be utilized to improve management of winter feeding. Tall fescue is a major component of most pasture and hay meadows within the Tygarts Valley Conservation District and is a forage species well suited for fall and winter grazing. Upshur, Barbour, and Taylor counties will be eligible for this focus effort. The focus area contains approximately 1940 farms according to US Census of Agriculture. It is the intent of this project to fund applications that have a suite of practices that will improve winter feeding of livestock thru management practices. It is estimated that 75% of these farms are not properly managing their grasslands. This project was chosen because the vast majority of resource concerns identified within this work unit revolve around improper grassland management. Several streams throughout the work unit have been identified as being impaired by sedimentation from soil erosion and excess nutrients and pathogens in runoff water.

Ranking
(pdf 115kb)

Upper Ohio Conservation District Winter Feed and  Forage Stockpiling Initiative
(New)
The scope of this project will be to provide alternative methods to address resource concerns caused by livestock winter feeding operations. Low-cost management practices will be utilized instead of structural feed barns and animal waste storage systems. Techniques such as stockpiling forages for winter grazing and hay distribution will be utilized as management practices to reduce confinement periods of livestock during the winter months. Temporary electric fencing and intensive grazing techniques would also be utilized to improve management of winter feeding. All portions of Pleasants, Tyler and Wetzel Counties of the Upper Ohio Conservation District (UOCD) will be eligible for this focus effort. The focus area of Pleasants, Tyler and Wetzel Counties contains approximately 585 farms according to the 2012 US Census of Agriculture. It is the intent of this project to fund applications that have a suite of practices that will improve winter feeding of livestock through management practices. It is estimated that 75% of these farms are not properly managing their grasslands. This project was chosen because the majority of resource concerns identified in the UOCD Long Range Plan revolve around improper grassland management. Streams within the focus areas (Middle Island Creek in Tyler and Pleasants Counties County and all branches of Fishing Creek in Wetzel County) are impaired by biological contaminants.

Ranking
(pdf 113kb)

West Fork Conservation District Stockpiling Forage and Winter Distribution of Hay
(Existing)
The scope of this project will be to provide alternative methods to address resource concerns caused by livestock winter feeding operations. Low-cost management practices will be utilized instead of high cost structural feed barns and animal waste storage systems. Techniques such as stockpiling forages for winter grazing and hay distribution will be utilized as management practices to reduce confinement periods of livestock during the winter months. Temporary electric fencing and intensive grazing techniques would also be utilized to improve management of winter feeding. Tall fescue is a major component of most pasture and hay meadows within the West Fork Conservation District and is a forage species well suited for fall and winter grazing. All portions of the West Fork Conservation District will be eligible for this focus effort. The focus area contains approximately 1841 farms according to US Census of Agriculture. It is the intent of this project to fund applications that have a suite of practices that will improve winter feeding of livestock thru management practices. It is estimated that 75% of these farms are not properly managing their grasslands. This project was chosen because the vast majority of resource concerns identified within this work unit revolve around improper grassland management. Several streams throughout the work unit contain federally listed endangered species (Clubshell Mussel and Snuffbox Mussel) whose habitats are negatively affected by the results of improper grassland management including sedimentation from soil erosion and excess nutrients and pathogens in runoff water.

Ranking
(pdf 107kb)

Western Conservation District Cover Crop Initiative
(Existing)
The Local Work Group would like to see an increase in cover crops during idle production periods to reduce soil erosion and improve soil health, but also to promote mixtures of cover crop species rather than just a monoculture planting. This project will be a two tiered approach. One to get farmers who do not currently use cover crops to adopt using at least a one to two species planting and the second tier for those that have experience but want to expand on diversity of species being used. The Local Work Group decided to define this resource concern to prime farmland soils within the conservation district that has a cropping history of row crop production two out of the past eight years. Acreage would have to have a slope of less than eight percent to qualify for the program as well. Cropping history information will be provided by Farm Service Agency and will be based on producers that have filed a crop report with them over the course of the last eight years. Otherwise participants will have to provide documentation in the form of date stamped pictures, letters of proof confirming the cropping history, or field staff knowledge of farming operation as verification. According to Farm Service Agency Records for 2016 the following tracts that have been identified as growing corn or beans for reporting purposes: Jackson County 33 (480 acres), Mason County 176 (9,981 acres), and Putnam County 10 (139 acres). Total cropped acres in the three counties for 2016 totaled 10,600 acres. It is estimated that an additional 3,000 acres of cropland is not currently registered with the Farm Service Agency they may qualify for the program and would participate in the program through outreach efforts. This proposal will only be available to the land use of cropland. There is approximately 72,710 acres of prime farmland meeting the criteria of less than eight percent slope. It is further estimated that only fifteen percent of this acreage will meet the cropping history requirement and be interested in participating in the program. Therefore 10,000 acres will be enrolled in the program. Of the 10,000 potential acres it is estimated that 3,500 acres will be planted for soil health purposes at an average cost of $85/acre for a two year period. This will be for the farmers that are currently already implementing a cover crop program and would be expanding their types of diversity of species. The remaining 6,500 acres would be for beginning or limited experience cover crop producers and will average $80/acres for the soil protection cover for a two year period. Ranking
Inefficient Grazing
(Existing)
The local work group determined to focus this initiative on the Headwaters of Thirteen Mile Creek that is located between Jackson and Mason Counties. The watershed encompasses approximately 25,218 acres and currently has 195 farms registered with the Farm Service Agency. This watershed was chosen primarily based on the existence of applications workload within the conservation district according to current applications with NRCS from the previous grassland fund code. The secondary reason for this watershed being selected is that according to the TMDL modeling there are thirteen segments within this watershed that has a reduction requirement of over seventy five percent in order to meet baseline criteria for fecal coliform. The final decision was made on the watershed being located within two of the three counties located in the Western Conservation District. Jackson, Mason and Putman are among the highest in the state for overall livestock production according to the 2012 Agricultural Census. With that type of livestock ownership being so large in our area, the need for pastures and forage production is high. By providing cost share assistance to the Western Conservation District for grazing land efficiency, we will be capable of addressing one of the largest resource concerns affecting this land use by removing undesirable species and improving the structure and composition of grazing forages through rotational grazing. In general, fields are tremendously over utilized because of the lack of infrastructure on farms to handle any rotational grazing systems. Fencing and watering systems are non-existent or lacking in scope in order to meet sustainable conservation needs tempered with production goals. By providing cross fencing and watering systems, participants could evenly distribute grazing to allow better utilization of forage resources. This proposal will use the Pasture Conditioning Score to document benchmark conditions of the grazing operation and the Stocking Rate Calculator from the 528 standard to determine animal unit carrying capacity of the farm. On average the Pasture Conditional Score is estimated to be at a benchmark average of 24 and expected to reach a score of 44 after the completion of the contract.

Ranking
(pdf 109kb)

Animal Waste
(Existing)
The Local Work Group determined to focus this initiative on feeding operations that were located in the Western Conservation District that are currently feeding on in CdA, LvA, MoA, SnA and SrB soil types. These soils have been recognized by field staff as being consistent soils throughout the counties, primarily near ephemeral or some intermittent streams that are near drainage ways and seem to have ponding and slow permeability; thus making these area prevalent to nutrient loss and extremely “mucky” areas to feed cattle in. Efforts will be made to move the feeding location to a location away from stream channel and these soil types if possible with the landowners operation. Waste Management has been a concern within the Western Conservation District for many years and continues to be at the forefront of resource concerns needing to be addressed. Most livestock operations in the area are cow-calf producers that winter feed brood cows and/or feeder calves. Manures at these winter feeding sites cannot be contained and nutrient loaded runoff ends up degrading water quality throughout the area. Providing manure storage structures and roofed feeding areas to catch and store this by-product would provide the needed nutrients to build soil organic matter on forage based farms. This stored manure could then be utilized on both pasture and cropland during the time of year when plants are growing and capable of sequestering excess nutrients. This greatly reduces the excessive nutrients entering drainage ways and also increases plant productivity and health. Winter feeding areas that are of most concern to degrading water quality and increasing soil erosion are those located within 300’ of streams and drainage ways. Livestock are typically concentrated in these areas because the stream is the only water source for the livestock or because the gently sloping land next to the stream provides easier use of equipment to feed their livestock. These winter feeding areas result in high concentration of livestock typically near waterways. The most common soil types that are associated with these area are: Chagrin Sandy Loam 0-3% (CdA), Lobdell Silt Loam 0-3% (LvA), Moshannon Silt Loam 0-3% (MoA), Sensabaugh Loam 0-3% and 3-8% (SnA & SrB) in Jackson, Mason and Putnam Counties. Which pose a critical resource concern for soil erosion and water quality. Providing roofed concrete feeding areas with adjacent manure storage will provide an environmentally sound suite of conservation practices to combat this resource problem. The participant will also have to agree to 100% confinement to the AWS during winter feeding.

Ranking
(pdf 99kb)

Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Habitat Development
(New)
Monarch butterflies are currently being considered for placement on the national endangered species list because of their possible extinction. The decline of the species is being based on the reduction of adequate habitat that will support the monarch during migration periods and the loss of common milkweed which is needed for the monarch to reproduce. All three counties within the Western Conservation District are located within the main migration corridor used by Monarch Butterflies in their bi-annual trek between the United States and Mexico. It is estimated that the monarch butterfly populations have decrease more than 80% during the last decade. Not only is the possible extension of this species of great concern but their importance of serving as a pollinator for crop productions is also being affected. Pollinators, in general, have seen a vast decline over the last decade and significant reduction in commodity crop production has occurred. So, while this proposal is directed specifically to the Monarch Butterfly habitat decline, benefits will also be provided to other pollinators with an increase in nectar producing plants. The FCA will encompass all three counties within the Western Conservation District and will be available to all land use except forestland. The proposal will require an applicant to put in a minimum of one acre of butterfly habitat and will have a maximum three-acre limit for all contracts considered for funding. Planned habitat development will be to establish 0.5 acres of primarily milkweed and nectar producing plant for summer consumption. A separate 0.5-acre plot will be established consisting primarily of nectar producing plants for spring and fall. Year one of the contract will be the establishment of both areas. Brush Management – Hand Tools will be planned for July to remove undesirables. A late fall disking of both plots to help with opening the soil surface and distributing seeds from the spring planting will be planned. Second year of the contract will again include Brush Management – Hand Tools in July for both plots. Late fall a disking will again be planned for area planted primarily to milkweed and the area planted for nectar production will be brush-hogged. The third and final year of the contract will be implementing the second-year management plan of brush management and disking/mowing of specific plots. The desired outcome will be for a total of 75 acres to be established and maintained through this proposal and that participants will continue to maintain the plantings after the contract has ended or make the decision to expand the program at their own expense. Landowners will provide feedback to NRCS staff as to the increase in Monarch butterfly sightings on their property each year.

Ranking
(pdf 98kb)

 

West Virginia Funding Pools

 

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Forest Management Implementation (FMI)

The Forest Management Implementation (FMI) statewide funding pool is for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource issues where forest-related products are produced.

Ranking
(90 kb)

Wildlife Habitat Conservation

A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation funding pool is available to West Virginia producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.

Ranking
(134 kb)

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

EQIP funding is available for the development of a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients.

CAP National Page

Ranking
(89 kb)

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

NWQI helps producers implement conservation systems to reduce sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land in the following watersheds:

  • Indian Creek Watershed

More information on the NWQI webpage.

Indian Creek
(114 kb)

 

Initiative Funding Pools

 

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Appalachian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative The Appalachian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative is a multi-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet.

Ranking
(164 kb)

Map of Counties
(639 kb)

Beginning Farmer The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Ranking
(168 kb)

Golden Winged Warbler Initiative (GWWI)

The Golden Winged Warbler Initiative is designed to develop or enhance habitat for this specific species in areas where the elevation is such that further enhancement is likely to increase the Golden Winged Warbler population.  Consideration of other habitat factors favorable to this species are also considered in the ranking of applications for assistance under this initiative.

Ranking
(96 kb)

On-Farm Energy

The On-Farm Energy Initiative enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through two types of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) for headquarters and/or for landscape, also known as an on-farm energy audit (headquarters and/or landscape); and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various measures and practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.

Ranking
(87 kb)

CAP Ranking
(82 kb)

Organic Initiative

The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic. The Initiative addresses natural resource concerns and also helps growers meet requirements related to National Organic Program (NOP) requirements.

Certified
(73 kb)

Transition
(73 kb)

Regional Conservation Partnership Program - Cerulean Warbler

The Cerulean Warbler Initiative is designed to develop or enhance habitat for this specific species in areas where the elevation is such that further enhancement is likely to increase the Cerulean Warbler population. Consideration of other habitat factors favorable to this species are also considered in the ranking of applications for assistance under this initiative.

Ranking
(100 kb)

Regional Conservation Partnership Program - Aquatic Passage

Through the concept of “Stream Simulation”, this project is designed to improve fish and aquatic wildlife habitat, reduce infrastructure risk, and increase flood resiliency. Practice planning, design and installation will be managed through the cooperative efforts of Trout unlimited, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Ranking
(114 kb)

Seasonal High Tunnels

The purpose of the Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops is to assist producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. The practice has the potential to assist producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.

Ranking
(100 kb)

 

Map of Counties
(309 kb)

Socially Disadvantaged The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Ranking
(170 kb)

StrikeForce

While poverty is a rural, suburban and urban challenge, the reality is that nearly 85 percent of America's persistent poverty counties are in rural areas. USDA's Strike Force for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative is part of our commitment to growing economies, increasing investments and creating opportunities in poverty-stricken rural communities. StrikeForce was officially launched in 2010 as a pilot project in persistent poverty areas in rural Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

In 2012, StrikeForce efforts expanded into persistent poverty counties in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. In 2013, Secretary Vilsack announced new efforts to bring the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. In 2014, Strike Force efforts expanded into Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. There are now over 700 persistent poverty counties (PDF, 2.2MB), parishes, boroughs, Colonias and tribal reservations in twenty states receiving StrikeForce attention.

Since its inception, StrikeForce has formed over 400 community based partnerships and supported 80,300 projects and opportunities to strengthen America's rural economy.

Ranking
(99 kb)

 

Map of Counties
(309 kb)