California communities receive $7.41 million for conservation

Communities throughout California will receive $7.41 million for conservation efforts which will include improving air and water quality and flood control.

DAVIS, Calif., Feb 1, 2001 (PRNewswire) — Communities throughout California will receive $7.41 million to accomplish goals such as fighting erosion, improving air and water quality, enhancing wildlife habitat, thinning fire fuel loads, preventing flooding and education projects.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, in concurrence with the Farm Service Agency, announced the allocation of the federal funds in Davis. The funds are made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), established by Congress as the central conservation program under the 1996 Farm Bill.

Fifty-one locally led initiatives will receive $5.854 million for projects referred to as "Geographic Priority Areas." These 5-10 year projects combine technical and financial assistance to place conservation measures on private land. Additionally, $1,002,300 will be divided between farmers and ranchers engaged in statewide conservation efforts addressing air quality, rangeland and forestry. These funds are targeted for specific counties where critical needs have been identified.

Interested landowners in approved areas can apply for conservation cost share assistance by visiting their local U.S.DA Service Center. Practices vary widely depending upon local goals and include measures from water conservation systems to forest thinning to installing fish screens in irrigation systems. Last year 594 conservation contracts were developed to accomplish such voluntary practices on private agricultural land.

The final $553,800 of EQIP funds will be reserved for educational purposes. Proposals for educational funding are currently being evaluated and a list of awardees will be available later this spring. In 2000, non-profit organizations hosted 32 EQIP educational projects in California.

EQIP funds are distributed in response to applications from Local Work Groups — comprised of U.S.DA agencies, Resource Conservation Districts and other interested agencies, groups and individuals. These local groups define resource concerns and possible solutions and then plan ways to implement those solutions. EQIP is one possible source of funding these solutions.

"While it may be tempting to think of conservation needs as being locked away in our parks and preserves, California's 42 million acres of crop and rangeland represent 78% of all private land in the state," says Jeff Vonk, State Conservationist for NRCS in California. "We can't have healthy ecosystems without having healthy farmlands. EQIP is one tool for investing in this health."

Counties with funded Geographic Priority Areas include the following: Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Stanislaus, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo and Yuba.

More information regarding the EQIP Program can be found at: http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/rts/eqip1.html .

Note: U.S.DA news releases and media advisories are available on the internet. The NRCS California home page can be viewed at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.

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