DAVIS, Calif., April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Farmers, including Forest landowners, along California's northern coast, have long been committed to improving fish habitat while running sustainable agriculture operations. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California will provide $500,000 in financial assistance to help these landowners take additional steps to boost local salmonid and other aquatic-species populations.
"Helping local producers protect and enhance rivers and streams in their watershed is a critical element in keeping farms healthy, productive and sustainable long into the future," said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California state conservationist.
Growers operating within the Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs), as designated by National Marine Fisheries Service, may be eligible to participate in this Pacific Salmon Habitat Enhancement Initiative. The Coho ESUs include watersheds located within Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Siskiyou, Sonoma, and Trinity counties.
Funding for this initiative is being provided through NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The initiative aims to provide financial and technical assistance for protection, restoration, and conservation of Pacific Salmon and Steelhead Trout. California's salmon populations need freshwater habitat that includes cold and clean water, upland and riparian vegetation to stabilize soil and shade, clean gravel for spawning and egg rearing, large woody debris to provide resting and hiding places, adequate food, and varied channel forms.
Projects should provide fish passage, reduce in-stream water diversions, enhance in-stream habitat structure, restore adjacent wetlands and riparian areas, and reduce sediment. Applications will be accepted through May 16, 2014, and will be prioritized by the applicant's ability to provide the most benefit towards protecting or improving aquatic habitat. In order to be considered eligible for financial assistance through EQIP, the applicant must have a vested interest in production agricultural and meet other program eligibility requirements.
For additional information, eligible producers in these counties are encouraged to contact their local NRCS Service Center. Service center locations and more information on the programs can be found at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.
Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.
SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service