FAQ: What are Conservation Innovation Grants? What types of projects or soil and water conservation efforts will this USDA program help fund?
Answer: The national office of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service says USDA accepts applications for competitive grants to develop and accelerate conservation approaches and technologies on private agricultural and forest lands.
"Conservation Innovation Grants have contributed to some of the most pioneering conservation work on America's agricultural and forest lands," says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "It's an excellent investment in new conservation technologies and approaches that farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can use to achieve their production and conservation goals."
About $15 million will be made available nationwide by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. State and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental and educational organizations, private businesses and individuals are eligible to apply.
Priority is given to applications that address hot-button issues such as nutrient management, soil health, etc.
Vilsack says priority will be given to applications that relate to nutrient management, energy conservation, soil health, air quality, climate change, wildlife, economics, sociology, environmental markets, food safety, historically underserved groups, or assessments of past CIG projects. In the 10 years that NRCS has administered the program, grants have helped develop water quality trading markets, demonstrated ways to increase fertilizer water and energy efficiencies, as well as address other resource concerns.
For example, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association used a CIG grant to work with growers to install automated sprinkler systems that conserve water and trim costs. Ducks Unlimited and other partners used a grant to develop a carbon credit system for North Dakota landowners in the Prairie Pothole region, a crucial area for migrating waterfowl. The Wilds, a wildlife conservation center, also used a grant to demonstrate how a combination of warm- and cool-season grasses can be successfully incorporated into a productive, sustainable rotational grazing system.
CIG program lets NRCS work with public and private partners
The grant program enables NRCS to work with public and private partners to accelerate technology development and adopt promising approaches to address natural resource concerns. Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, these grants are awarded through a competitive process. At least 50% of the total cost of grant projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.
For more on this grant opportunity visit the NRCS website. To apply electronically, visit grants.gov. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America's farmers and ranchers conserve the nation's soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. Follow NRCS on Twitter. Check out other conservation-related stories on the USDA Blog. Watch videos on NRCS' YouTube channel.