DAVIS, Calif. - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) California State Office is pleased to announce that approximately $139 million in federal funding was invested this fiscal year for conservation activities throughout the State of California.
The funding was distributed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and NRCS' easement programs. An important EQIP priority in 2010, NRCS California invested nearly $27 million to improve air quality throughout the state.
'We were able to put an incredible amount of conservation on the ground this year,' said Ed Burton, NRCS State Conservationist for California. 'This funding allowed us to not only enter into thousands of conservation contracts with California's farmers and ranchers but also allowed us to administer more than a dozen unique conservation initiatives around the State.'
More than $75 million was obligated for EQIP, a voluntary conservation program, which awards cost share assistance to projects that provide significant environmental benefit to California's working lands. Some of the eligible conservation contracts include those that address water quality and quantity, air quality, forestland and wildlife habitat.
NRCS California also focused on numerous special initiatives through EQIP, in particular - rebuilding native Sage Grouse habitat in four targeted counties, working with dairy producers to improve local water and air quality, and targeted funding for farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin.
More than $21 million was obligated for AWEP, a sub-program under EQIP, for farmers and ranchers to implement agricultural water enhancement activities for the purposes of conserving surface and ground water and improving water quality. Additionally, $2.3 million was allocated for WHIP, to improve California's critical wildlife habitats, and $5.8 million for CSP, to encourage current farmers and ranchers to implement a higher level of conservation practices on their agricultural lands.
In addition, approximately $35 million was obligated for NRCS' easement programs, including $27.4 million for the Wetlands Reserve Program, $5 million for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, $2 million for the Grassland Reserve Program and $600,000 for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program.
NRCS California entered into more than 2700 contracts with California's agricultural producers this fiscal year. That is an increase from approximately 2300 contracts, for a total of $77 million statewide, in fiscal year 2009.
Since 1935, NRCS has provided conservation-related products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the Nation's soil, water, and related natural resources on non-Federal lands. With our help, people are better able to conserve, maintain, or improve their natural resources. As a result of our technical and financial assistance, land managers and communities take a comprehensive approach to the use and protection of natural resources in rural, suburban, urban, and developing areas.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment.