The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California announces four new focus areas where $8.5 million will be made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help producers undertake water quality and water conservation projects. Applications are due April 20, 2012.
"All of these new project areas are being made possible through an NRCS national landscape conservation initiative that is helping us to provide voluntary incentives to farmers and dairy producers to improve the Bay Delta ecosystem," says Ed Burton, California State Conservationist for NRCS.
The four areas targeting water quality/water conservation include:
*Walker Creek portion of the Colusa-Glenn subwatershed in Glenn County;
*Lower Snake River in Sutter County;
*French Camp Slough Watersheds in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties;
*Eastern portion of the San Joaquin River watershed in Stanislaus and Merced counties.
Each project has its own set of specific goals, management practices and borders which will be described locally. On irrigated cropland these will typically include a mix of irrigation efficiency improvements including irrigation water management, vegetative filtering practices, nutrient management, pest management, cover crops, sediment basins and tail-water return systems. On dairies, practices will include structures and management to capture, store, and measure and distribute manure nutrients in a safe and useful way.
"Our intention is to tackle focused project areas through partnership and leveraging resources," adds Burton. "We want to demonstrate beneficial changes in these targeted landscape areas that can be achieved with voluntary, science-based conservation practices."
In addition to the water conservation and water quality work noted above, the NRCS Bay Delta assistance also includes a focus area where landowners are enhancing waterbird habitat in six counties in the Sacramento Valley; the opportunity to voluntarily enroll lands in the NRCS Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP); and a partnered opportunity between NRCS and DOI's Bureau of Reclamation to combine irrigation infrastructure improvements with on-farm improvements in irrigation.