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Practical Information for Florida Environmental Professionals

News Update

Conservation technical assistance, cost share opportunities available through NRCS

Staff report

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida is encouraging landowners, farmers and producers to visit their local NRCS office now to receive more information and apply for conservation technical assistance and possible cost share opportunities.

The application process for 2008 Farm Bill conservation programs is continuous, but funding selections are only made once a year. The Florida NRCS application cutoff date for consideration for Federal Fiscal Year 2012 funds is October 31, 2011.

“NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.

Cost share funding is available to eligible applicants for the following Farm Bill programs:

• The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air and related natural resources on their land. Through EQIP, NRCS develops contracts with agricultural producers to voluntarily implement conservation practices. Persons engaged in livestock or agricultural production and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible for the program. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm or ranch lands.

• The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program is a voluntary program for developing or improving high quality habitat that supports fish and wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Through WHIP, the NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to eligible private and Tribal landowners for the development of upland, wetland, aquatic and other types of wildlife habitat.

• The Wetlands Reserve Program provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and tribes to restore, protect and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture.

• The Grassland Reserve Program is a program for landowners and operators to protect grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, scrubland and certain other lands.

• The Conservation Stewardship Program is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land. CSP encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities; and improving, maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.

Seventy percent of the land in the United States is privately owned, making stewardship by private landowners vital to the health of our Nation’s environment.

Additional information on NRCS, conservation assistance and programs is available on at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov.

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