Colorado and Kansas get Water Quantity and Drought Pilot funding

News
Jun 28, 2013
by WLJ

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Colorado and Kansas recently announced an opportunity for producers to receive financial and technical assistance in a new pilot effort that will address water quantity resource concerns using the conservation planning process. Colorado producers impacted by the drought are strongly encouraged to submit an application by Friday, July 19, 2013. While Kansas NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis, they had set application cut off dates for this pilot of May 17 and June 21, 2013.

“This process will identify least-cost conservation alternatives for the producer to address water quantity needs, identify existing practices to address these needs, and when applicable, consider using a new interim practice that may be used to reestablish needed water holding capacity to structures,” said Randy Randall, acting state conservationist for Colorado NRCS.

The pilot will be funded through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for costs directly related to removal of accumulated sediment from a pond, provided sediment removal is the best and least-cost alternative. Conservation practices, as they relate to structures approved for sediment removal include: cover crops, critical area planting, fence, mulching, pipeline, prescribed grazing, and watering facility.

Applicants who do not qualify for funding through the Water Quantity and Drought Pilot may be eligible through alternate funding sources, including the Drought Recovery Initiative. Conservation practices must be implemented to NRCS standards and specifications.

Socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for eligible conservation practices applied.

“NRCS will work with producers to address water quantity-related natural resource concerns using the conservation planning process,” Eric B. Banks, Kansas state Conservationist, stated. Under this new pilot, NRCS will conduct a site assessment with the producer, identify alternatives to meet the producer’s natural resource concerns, develop a conservation plan, and if priority criteria are met, EQIP funding may be available. EQIP assistance may be provided for costs directly related to removal of accumulated sediment from a pond, provided sediment removal is the best and least cost alternative. Ponds must have been originally constructed to NRCS standards and specifications.

Additional conservation practices, as they relate to structures approved for sediment removal, include: cover crops, critical area planting, fence, mulching, pipeline, prescribed grazing, and watering facility.

“I would encourage producers who are impacted by the drought to visit their local NRCS field office to learn more about the assistance available,” Banks stated. Applicants who do not qualify for funding through the Water Quantity and Drought Pilot may be eligible through alternate funding sources, including Drought Recovery Initiative.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of 10 years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

Landowners interested in these voluntary programs should contact their local NRCS office to develop a conservation plan. More information about NRCS can be found by visiting the NRCS website at www.co.nrcs.usda.gov. — WLJ

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