Natural conservation funds made available to Tennessee landowners

Natural conservation funds made available to Tennessee landowners

Tennessee landowners are reminded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that sign ups for USDA conservation programs continue throughout the year. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) also has biologists that can help landowners develop a conservation plan that improves and preserves wildlife habitat. With each recent USDA Farm Bill extension, unanticipated allocations of conservation funding have been made available for Tennessee landowners. Once a plan is developed, it could be implemented as soon as funding becomes available. Negotiations over a new Farm Bill are ongoing in Washington, D.C. Application sign ups are continuous, but the window to qualify for the additional funds is sometimes very short, so landowners or operators who are interested in NRCS’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) or other USDA conservation programs should sign up now to increase their funding chances. All applications are ranked and funded accordingly. “NRCS in Tennessee can receive additional dollars for conservation programs each time the Farm Bill is extended,” said State Conservationist Kevin Brown. “The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is a good example. After the first Farm Bill extension, Tennessee received an allocation of about $240,000 for WHIP. Then when it was extended for another month, we got another $450,000 for WHIP.” The conservation program allocations are drawn from a national fund maintained in Washington. If enough Tennessee landowners don’t have applications on file when the funds become available, the funding is diverted to other states. That means the sooner Tennessee applicants submit an application, the greater their chances of being approved. The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) also offer continuous, year-round signup. Interested agricultural producers are urged to find out if they are eligible now to improve their overall chances when funding is available. Conservation programs are available for a variety of conservation needs including wildlife habitat, limited livestock access to streams, grazing distribution, wetland restoration and protection, and erosion control. For more information about Farm Bill conservation program eligibility and signup, visit the NRCS in Tennessee Web site at: http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/ or contact your local District Conservationist at the nearest USDA Service Center. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information on other conservation programs and wildlife habitat assistance available to Tennessee landowners, and TWRA biologists to call for technical assistance, visit http://www.TWRAprivatelands.org. Published in The Messenger 6.6.08

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