McMINNVILLE -- Owners of farms, ranches and forest land in Yamhill County may be eligible for financial help to them reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire while enhancing forest health and improving the efficiency of irrigation and fish habitat on farmland.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications from private landowners for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which reimburses landowners for costs to perform conservation work on private agricultural lands.
EQIP funding is available within two strategic focus areas within the county: for private, non-industrial forestlands and for farmland in the Lower Yamhill River Watershed.
The forestry funding targets priority forest sites that have had the greatest ecological need for increased bio-diversity as determined by local knowledge from landowners, partners and the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District. Eligible woodland owners may receive assistance to help them perform conservation practices such as pre-commercial thinning, slash treatments, tree and shrub plantings, forest management plans, and other select activities that will promote forest health and diverse wildlife habitat. These practices can reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire by removing excess, overstocked timber stands and leaving less fuel to feed a fire.
Additional funding is also available to agricultural producers in the Lower Yamhill River and its tributaries to help them reduce sediment runoff from cropland, which can negatively impact water quality and habitat for fish, including endangered salmon species.
This strategy also addresses irrigation efficiency by upgrading on-farm irrigation controls that keep more water in-stream for fish while saving water and energy for farmers. Eligible landowners may receive assistance to perform a variety of conservation practices, including irrigation upgrades, reduced tillage, cover crops, riparian forest buffers, and more.
Additional EQIP funding is available for organic farmers and for producers wishing to transition their farm to organic; and for producers wishing to extend crop production seasons through installing a seasonal high tunnel.
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