EQIP signups for sage grouse habit program ongoing | NevadaAppeal.com

EQIP signups for sage grouse habit program ongoing

Nevada Appeal staff report

RENO — The Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering Environmental Quality Incentives Program financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers interested in completing conservation projects that improve and protect greater sage-grouse habitat through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

The RCPP encourages conservation partners from across the nation to join in efforts with agricultural producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources through installation and maintenance of conservation activities in selected project areas. The Greater Outcomes for Greater Sage-Grouse RCPP effort is a joint venture of Partners for Western Conservation, The Cattleman's Association, the states of Nevada and Colorado, among others. In Nevada, the Greater Outcomes for Greater Sage-Grouse RCPP effort focuses specifically on providing producers an opportunity to improve GRSG habitat by utilizing USDA financial assistance through EQIP. Producers also should have an interest in enrolling their habitat acreages into the Nevada Conservation Credit System.

The Nevada CCS, a state mitigation program, is designed to offset impacts from man-made disturbances through enhancements and protections that result in a net conservation gain for GRSG habitat in Nevada. Private lands within GRSG habitat can be enhanced, restored, and/or better protected from threats, and then ultimately preserved to generate and sell credits into the CCS. Along with the sale of credits, a 30-year (or more) contract to preserve GRSG habitat is required. The Nevada CCS is the primary strategy for Nevada's GRSG protection and part of a larger effort of Western states to prevent a listing of the bird as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Agricultural producers with interest in enhancing GRSG habitats and potentially enrolling habitat acreages into the CCS are encouraged to apply for these special EQIP funds through the NRCS' Regional Conservation Protection Partnership. Potential applicants will also need to complete a Credit Site Validation Checklist as authorization of credit estimates to assess CCS credit potential. Applications must be received before 4 p.m. February 16.

Conservation practices and management actions may include, but aren't limited to, sagebrush establishment, perennial grass and/or forb seeding, riparian or meadow enhancements, cross-fencing and off-stream watering for livestock and wildlife. In addition, the practices may provide landowners the opportunity to enhance and develop habitat that may qualify for the Nevada CCS.

Within Nevada, this RCPP effort operates under the authority of NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary, financial assistance program that provides funding for the implementation of conservation practices that may be used to protect and enhance sage grouse habitat, manage livestock, improve irrigation efficiency and reduce soil loss.

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Applicants must meet USDA program eligibility requirements for land eligibility and person eligibility. Eligibility requirements include Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitations for individuals and entities, with entities also required to have a DUNS number and be registered in SAMS to participate. Farm Bill programs have strict payment limits, and the amount of financial assistance producers can receive is limited to $450,000 per farm bill cycle. Limited resource producers, beginning farmers and ranchers, or socially disadvantaged agricultural producers may be eligible for up to 15 percent higher payments, not to exceed 90 percent of the estimated cost to install the practice.

For more information concerning the Greater Incomes for Greater Sage Grouse RCPP project, contact Dan Huser at 775-684-8600, or by email: dhuser@sagebrushco.nv.gov.

To learn more, go online to: http://www.nv.nrcs.usda.gov.