USDA Announces Recipients of Conservation Innovation Grants

Sep 22, 2014, 17:23 ET from USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service

DAVIS, Calif., Sept. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced the winning proposals funded for 2014 California Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) in the state level competition. Five projects have been awarded more than $324,000 to develop conservation approaches to benefit wildlife and native plants, conserve water, and improve farm resource management.

"CIG invests in innovative, on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches, with the eventual goal of wide-scale NRCS adoption to address a wide variety of natural resource issues," said NRCS Assistant State Conservationist Alan Forkey.

Funding for these projects is in addition to the four funded National CIG proposals in California announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on September 15. NRCS administers both a national and a state-level CIG program to fund the development of unique and innovative solutions that will make natural resources conservation more effective and efficient. The intent of the state component is to provide flexibility to NRCS State Conservationists to target CIG funds to individual producers and smaller organizations that may possess promising innovations, but may not compete well on the larger scale of the national grants competition.

Below is the list of fiscal year 2014 California CIG awardees.

California State University San Marcos-University Auxiliary Research Services Division: Received $74,500 to evaluate and demonstrate the utility of unmanned aerial vehicles in mapping and surveying active bird nesting sites to allow for the implementation of conservation practices during migratory bird breeding season and provide training to growers, land managers, and conservationists in their use.

American Indian Education Consultants, Inc. (AIEC):  Received $25,000 to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional burning as a viable conservation technique as a means to increase acorn production.

Tehama County Resource Conservation District:  Received $75,000 to provide water efficiency education and demonstrate the use of a new mobile application to help growers make informed irrigation decisions and develop a network of leaders who can help spread information about new irrigation techniques and technologies.

Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops:  Received $75,000 to build a working model that demonstrates how the use of performance metrics can significantly improve farm resource management efficiency.

Regents of the University of California - Berkeley Eco Site - Native Plants - Working Lands: Received $75,000 to integrate ecological site descriptions into wildlife and native plant enhancement on working landscapes.

The grants are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Grantees must work with producers and forestland owners to develop and demonstrate the new technologies and approaches.

At least 50 percent of the total cost of CIG projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.

SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service