Air, water, soil projects get boost

Federal funds are available for projects that improve the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, promote good land management practices and reduce greenhouse gases.

The separate programs have their own filing requirements and deadlines. Each are through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Cooperative conservation

The NRCS is making available up to $3.5 million for projects that show the greatest potential for improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The NRCS enters into agreements of up to five years on projects that will enhance conservation on agricultural and non-industrial private forest lands.

Applications will be accepted until Jan. 31 from state and local governments, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. Individual landowners and operators cannot submit proposals.

To apply, call or visit the Culpeper USDA Service Center at 351 Lakeside Drive or call Rex Rexrode at 540-825-4200 ext. 108. More information, including how to submit proposals, can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ccpi.

Looking for a few good land managers

The NRCS is also seeking Virginia farmers and forestry producers interested in earning rewards for good land management practices through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

The program offers payments to producers who want to improve their conservation performance. CSP is open to all Virginia farmers and forestry producers regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. Targeted land includes crop-, pasture- and non-industrial private forest land with the first enrollment period ending Jan. 7.

“CSP participants get credit for conservation measures they’ve already implemented and for new measures they agree to add,” says State Conservationist Jack Bricker.

Potential applicants are encouraged to use the CSP self-screening checklist to determine whether CSP is suitable for their operations. The checklist may be accessed through the national CSP Web site at usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html.

To apply, call or visit the Culpeper USDA Service Center at 351 Lakeside Drive or call Rexrode.

Climate change abatement

The NRCS is also making $5 million available through the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program to support large-scale demonstration projects involving innovative approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on America’s private lands.

Project proposals must involve producers who are eligible for the NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications will be accepted from these individuals as well as non-federal governments and non-governmental organizations, including federally recognized tribes and private businesses. Grants will be awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process with applications being accepted from all 50 states and U.S. territories. At least 50 percent of the total cost of the demonstration project must come from non-federal matching funds (cash and in-kind contributions) provided by the grant recipient.

Applications for grants must be received by the close of business on Feb. 11. They can be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov/ or mailed to: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Conservation Innovation Grants Program; National Technology Support Team, Room 6227-S; 1400 Independence Ave, SW; Washington, DC 20250. To view the complete announcement of program funding, visit nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html.

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