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Conservation Innovation grants made available through USDA

Conservation Innovation grants made available through USDA

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:02 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the availability of approximately $25 million in fiscal year 2010 to fund projects through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG).
The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. For FY 2010, CIG will offer the following funding categories: National, Chesapeake Bay Watershed and Mississippi River Basin. This funding will help USDA further advance solutions to improve water, soil and air quality, increase nutrient management, promote sustainable agriculture and enhance wildlife habitat.
“USDAs investment in these grants will advance our goal of producing long-term dividends in environmental enhancement and protection,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The grants will assist producers in using market-based approaches to conservation and innovative technologies that can put conservation on the land.”
CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides and references or to the private sector. CIG does not fund research projects. Projects intended to formulate hypothesis do not qualify.
CIG is to apply proven technology which has been shown to work previously. It is a vehicle to stimulate the development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a likelihood of success, and to be candidates for eventual technology transfer or institutionalization. CIG promotes sharing of skills, knowledge, technologies, and facilities among communities, governments and other institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to a wider range of users.
Eligible applicants for CIG, a component of NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), include:
• State governments
• County governments
• City or township governments
• Special district governments
• Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
• Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
• Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
• Private institutions of higher education
• Individuals
• For-profit organizations other than small businesses
• Small businesses
All CIG projects must also include agricultural producers who meet EQIP eligibility requirements. For more information about the EQIP eligibility requirements, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip. CIG funds one-to-three year projects that target innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Selected applicants may receive grants of up to 50-percent of the total project cost. The maximum federal contribution for each project is $1 million.
Tennessee’s State Conservationist Kevin Brown, who directs the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Tennessee, says CIG presents good funding opportunities for local governments, state education institutions and other entities. “Conservation Innovation Grants are available to eligible applicants for innovative ideas and management practices that will help NRCS in Tennessee with our mission; Helping People Help the Land. This federal program offers a unique opportunity to groups interested in advancing technologies associated with promoting sustainable agriculture, improving nutrient management and increasing productivity and environmental health in Tennessee.”
Approximately $15 million will be available for proposals that address specific CIG resource concerns nationwide such as energy conservation and climate change. About $5 million will be used to address resource concerns in the Mississippi River Basin. This funding will help USDA further advance its recently announced Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative for 12 Midwest and Southern states, including Tennessee. Up to $5 million will be available for proposals addressing natural resource concerns in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
USDA will use a two-phased approach to award CIGs this fiscal year. Applicants will first submit pre-proposals followed by full application packet submission, upon request of USDA. Pre-proposals must be submitted to NRCS’s National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., by close of business on Monday. NRCS will request a full application package only from those applicants selected in the pre-proposal process. Full applications for selected pre-proposals must be submitted by June 4. Send pre-proposals and full application packets to Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Conservation Innovation Grants Program, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, D.C. 20013-2890. 
Information about the CIG Announcement of Program Funding can be found at www.grants.gov where applicants can apply electronically, and at the CIG Web page at www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html.
Published in The Messenger 4.20.10

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