Opportunities available now for conservation help and funding

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By The Staff

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida has set a cutoff date of Oct. 29 to submit applications for several voluntary conservation programs to help eligible participants with technical and financial assistance for conservation practices to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, restore wetlands and provide habitat for wildlife.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to conserve and protect soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Through EQIP, NRCS develops contracts with agricultural producers to voluntarily implement conservation practices. Persons engaged in livestock or agricultural production and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible for the program. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm or ranch lands.  
The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for developing or improving high quality habitat for fish and wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Through WHIP, the NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to private and Tribal landowners for the development of upland, wetland, aquatic, and other types of wildlife habitat.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture.  
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a program for landowners and operators to protect grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, shrubland, and certain other lands.  
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land.  CSP rewards producers for protecting and conserving their resources and for undertaking additional conservation activities to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner.
NRCS encourages interested parties to visit with our staff as soon as possible. Applicants must have completed all eligibility requirements.   Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, Florida NRCS has established a cut-off date of October 29, 2010 for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications for the 2011 program year.
For more information on conservation assistance in Levy, Dixie & Gilchrist Counties, contact the NRCS Field Office located at 625 North Hathaway Avenue, Bronson, FL 32621.  Our mailing address is P.O. Box 37, Bronson, FL 32621-0037. Appointments are highly recommended—please call 352-486-2672 extension 3.  For more information about NRCS and Conservation Programs, visit the NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov.