$22.8 Million Available For Water and Land Enhancement Projects

Dec 15, 2010, 13:49 ET from USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service

Projects proposals for AWEP and CCPI will be accepted through Jan. 28, 2011, for consideration

DAVIS, Calif., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White announced $22.8 million in combined funds for the nationwide 2011 Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) sign up.  Beginning today through Jan. 28, 2011, project proposals from California and across the United States will be accepted offering the greatest benefit to local water and land resources.  

"California's farming, ranching, tribal, and educational communities have benefitted from these two programs over the past two years and this year will be no different," said Ed Burton, NRCS State Conservationist in California.  "I want to encourage our partners in California to apply for funding for their critical water and land projects."  

AWEP is a voluntary conservation initiative, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, which provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement agricultural water enhancement activities on agricultural land for the purposes of conserving surface and ground water and improving water quality.  As part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), AWEP operates through program contracts with producers to plan and implement conservation practices in project areas established through partnership agreements.  The difference in AWEP projects is that applications for project funding are made directly to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from an organization on behalf of a group of agricultural producers who intend to make water improvements in a geographic area.  Up to $5 million is available this year for nationwide AWEP projects.

Also authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, CCPI helps farmers and ranchers on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands achieve natural resource benefits such as clean air, clean water, productive soils and abundant wildlife.  CCPI works through three existing NRCS programs - EQIP, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) - to leverage additional services and resources from non-federal partners.   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.  Up to $16 million is available through EQIP, $1.8 million through WHIP, and 229,000 acres through CSP.

Applicants are highly encouraged to submit proposals electronically to AWEP@wdc.usda.gov for AWEP and CCPI@wdc.usda.gov for CCPI.  Higher priority will be given to proposals assisting producers in meeting regulatory requirements, achieve the overall objectives in five years or less, and in the case of AWEP, are located in a high priority area, including the Sacramento River Basin.  

Written proposals will also be accepted at:

Gregory K. Johnson

Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division

Department of Agriculture

Natural Resources Conservation Service

P.O. Box 2890

Washington, D.C. 20013

Note: Registered or Certified Mail to a Post Office will not be accepted.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to use the proposal templates available for download at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/AWEP/ for AWEP and http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CCPI/ for CCPI.  For additional information, please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CCPI/.

SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service