Cash available for conservation work
For rural landowners in Yamhill County, there is a clear message from the National Resources Conservation Service: we can help you improve your land, provided it meets some of our conservation goals as well.
Funding is available through the conservation services Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which aims to financially help farmers, ranchers and family forest owners all around Oregon enhance their land.
The programs funds are targeted toward specific projects in each county to address a local natural resource concern, according to NCRS Public Affairs Officer Tracy Robillard.
Yamhill County farmers, ranchers or family forest owners are eligible for funding for projects that will:
- Improve water quality for fish habitat in the lower Yamhill River. The goal is to reduce sediment runoff and increase stream flows in that section of the river and its tributaries, ultimately improving fish habitat.
- Enhance early seral habitat in the upper South Yamhill River area. A seral habitat is one that is not at its full potential or climax habitat. Work related to this project will improve habitats in meadows, road right-of-ways and powerline easement areas, will improve elk and deer habitat, and will improve herd health through foraging opportunities.
- Restore the upland oak population in the North Willamette Valley. Native white oak habitats are crucial to the survival of the endangered Fenders blue butterfly as well as other wildlife, and work within this project goal will restore these native habitats to the local area.
Landowners without ties to those specific areas of interest may also be eligible for funding for whats called the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative as well as the Organic Initiative.
A seasonal high tunnel is an unheated, plastic-covered structure that is comparable to a greenhouse on a lower scale. According to the NRCS, they provide an intermediate level of environmental protection and control compared to open field conditions and heated greenhouses. They are often employed to extend the growing season or to reduce the need for pesticides, and are popular for their reported easy construction and maintenance.
The NRCS program reimburses qualifying applicants who purchase the tunnel as a kit with certain warranties and instructions from the company.
Organic producers or those who are working toward that status are also eligible for funding, no matter where they are, through the agencys Organic Initiative funding program.
Qualifying organic producers are National Organic Program certified farmers or ranchers who meet minimum income requirements, or those who are transitioning toward NOP certification.
Funds can be used to plan and install conservation measures, including buffer strips, cover crops, field borders, mulching, pest management and more.
The high tunnel and organic funding is not restricted to specific geographic areas, Robillard said, and anyone can apply as long as they meet our basic eligibility requirements.
Those include providing proof of ownership or legal control of land that is in agriculture or is non-industrial private forest land; falling into certain income and earnings categories; providing water rights and other forms of documentation; and more.
The NRCS distributes funding in the form of a rebate. A participant pays the costs up front and once the project is completed and certified the federal agency will issue a refund for a percentage of the costs.
For more information on NRCS funding programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/or/programs/.