Today State Conservationist Jane Hardisty announced the sign up period for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). EQIP provides farmers with financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices on their land to address specific resource concerns. Hardisty explains that Indiana is accepting applications for the general EQIP which includes practices such as fencing, animal watering systems, pasture planting, wildlife habitat, erosion control structures, manure storage structures, crop and pest management, plus soil health practices such as no-till and cover crops. “We are also taking applications for several special landscape initiatives that target specific habitat or water quality resource concerns,” Hardisty said.
Included in this year’s sign up are the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, National Water Quality Initiative, Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, and Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative. “Targeting designated areas allows us to address specific natural resource concerns, and provides farmers with a less competitive option. Farmers applying for projects in the designated areas will not have to compete with the statewide EQIP applications, just those applying for each specific initiative,” said Hardisty.
Farmers have until February 21, 2014 to submit an application.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative focuses on wetland and habitat restoration, invasive species control, and nonpoint source pollution that threaten the water quality of the lakes. The targeted watersheds include: St. Joseph, Upper Maumee, Auglaize and St. Mary’s watersheds in the Northeast part of Indiana and include all or parts of Steuben, Noble, DeKalb, Allen, Wells and Adams Counties.
The Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative focuses on reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie, and eligible watersheds in Indiana include St. Joseph, Upper Maumee, Auglaize and St. Mary’s watersheds in the Northeast, which include portions of Steuben, Noble, DeKalb, Allen, Wells and Adams Counties.
The National Water Quality Initiative makes funds available to farmers and forest landowners in selected watersheds for conservation practices that address specific water quality issues. Funding will be available in these three watersheds: Silver Creek (Kosciusko and Wabash Counties); Eagle Creek (Hendricks and Marion Counties); and Ell Creek (Dubois County).
Under the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, the NRCS enters into partnership agreements with eligible entities that want to enhance conservation outcomes on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. Indiana has one CCPI project underway—a partnership in Sullivan, Greene and Knox Counties focused on irrigation improvement and water quality.
For more information on any of these EQIP opportunities, contact your local NRCS District Conservationist. To locate the office near you, visit https://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/dclist.html. Information on the EQIP program is also available on the Indiana NRCS webpage at https://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip.html