Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship has issued a request for applications for targeted watershed demonstration projects focused on water quality. Potential projects have until March 31, 2014 to apply for the funds.
"These demonstration projects allow farmers to see how water quality practices can work on farms in their area and help us make an impact on water quality," Northey says. "We are excited to get some additional demonstration projects up and running to start working with farmers this summer and fall."
Projects must be within the nine large priority watersheds that have been identified by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council, or WRCC. The nine priority watersheds are the Floyd, West Nishnabotna, East Nishnabotna, North Raccoon, Boone, South Skunk, Skunk, Middle Cedar, and Turkey. These nine large watersheds, also known as HUC8 watersheds, include 429 sub-watersheds, or HUC12 watersheds. Applications will be accepted for projects focused on a single sub-watershed within the priority watersheds, or for projects that group multiple sub-watersheds into a single application.
Soil and water conservation districts, watershed groups eligible
Projects will include concentrated efforts to demonstrate conservation practices paired with strong outreach/education components to disseminate information on these practices to promote increased awareness and adoption of available practices and technologies for achieving reductions in nutrient loads to surface waters. Successful projects will serve as local and regional hubs for demonstrating practices and providing practice information to farmers, peer networks and local communities.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts, watershed groups and other non-governmental organizations are eligible to submit applications. Projects will be allowed up to three years for initial project duration with the possibility of future extensions depending on future funding availability and project performance. The state ag department will make available up to $2,500,000 to support demonstration projects over their initial duration period not to exceed three years.
Applications will be reviewed by a committee including representatives from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa. Recommendations from this committee will be used to advise the selections made by IDALS.
Project application information, which includes a map of priority watersheds, can be found on the ag department's website. under "Hot Topics" or can be requested by contacting the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Division of Soil Conservation at 515-281-5851. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 31, 2014.