Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $7 million will be available to eligible farmers, ranchers and private non-industrial forest landowners in 11 states to implement conservation practices on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). CCPI helps producers create natural resource benefits such as clean air, clean water, productive soils, and abundant wildlife on their operations.
"CCPI's unique partnership allows USDA to use the resources and capabilities of non-federal partners as well as its own technical and financial resources to implement conservation on working farms, ranches, and forest lands," Vilsack said.
USDA will fund 31 proposals in the 11 states through CCPI, which is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). USDA offers financial assistance through three existing programs—the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)—to leverage additional services and resources from non-federal partners. States with approved proposals this fiscal year are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.
Below are brief descriptions of selected examples of the most recently approved projects. For a complete list of approved projects, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ccpi/ccpi2011.html.
• Lower Feather River/Honcut Creek Watershed Action Plan (California) – $500,000 to help producers implement proven conservation practices that will maximize water savings and reduce offsite runoff of pesticides, water-borne sediment, and nutrients that can impair water quality. Primary Sponsor: Butte County Resource Conservation District.
• The Central Umpqua-Mid Klamath Oak Conservation Project (California and Oregon) – $446,000 to provide financial benefits to producers who install conservation practices that protect, enhance and restore declining oak habitats. Primary Sponsor: Lomakatsi Restoration Project.
• Forest Management Promotion in the Shawnee Hills and Highland Rim Eco-Regions (Indiana) – $300,000 to promote forest management and conservation within the Shawnee Hills and Highland Rim Eco-Regions by focusing conservation practices on private forestlands within the Hoosier National Forest Purchase Boundaries. Primary Sponsor: Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
• State of Maryland Cover Crop Program (Maryland) – $300,000 to help agricultural producers with costs associated with establishing cover crops for nutrient uptake and overall soil health. Primary Sponsor: Queen Anne's Soil Conservation District.
• Construction of Terraces, Water and Sediment Control Basins and Underground Tile Outlets and the Establishment of Cover Crops (Missouri) – $360,000 to help landowners construct terraces, water and sediment control basins and underground tile outlets and establish cover crops to reduce sheet, rill and gully erosion. Primary Sponsor: Holt County Soil and Water Conservation District.
• Targeting Medusahead in Prime Sage-Grouse Habitat (Oregon) – $300,000 to treat degraded rangeland sites destroyed by the invasion of Medusahead Rye. Primary Sponsor: Keating Soil and Water Conservation District.
• New River Grazing Management Initiative (Virginia) – $999,020 to improve training and /or management practice assistance for producers managing grazing land. Primary Sponsor: New River-Highlands Resource Conservation and Development Council.
• Methow Basin Flow Enhancement Project (Washington State) – $162,000 to increase irrigation efficiency by helping irrigators to upgrade their handline systems to pivot systems. Primary Sponsor: Washington Water Project of Trout Unlimited.
Individual farmers, ranchers and private landowners located in approved project areas may now apply through their local NRCS office to find out whether they are eligible for financial and technical assistance. They can use that assistance to address conservation priorities; meet federal, state, and local regulatory requirements related to production; cooperate to install and maintain conservation practices; and develop and demonstrate innovative conservation practices and delivery methods.
Conservation partners submitted proposals for projects to help enhance conservation outcomes on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. Eligible entities included federally recognized Indian tribes, state and local units of government, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, higher education institutions, and nongovernmental organizations with a history of working cooperatively with producers. Partner proposals were selected competitively based on previously identified criteria. Potential partners were not required to provide matching funding but increased their chance of selection by providing financial, technical, or other resources.
Additional information about CCPI is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ccpi/index.html or a local USDA NRCS office.