More than $24 million is available to agricultural producers and landowners to improve and protect the waters and resources in the Great Lakes Basin, announced Terry Cosby, State Conservationist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Applications to install specific conservation practices through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) are being accepted for priority ranking through June 8, 2012.
Producers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin can apply at their local USDA office for funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), and the Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTAP). NRCS specialists provide farmers and ranchers with technical assistance to help determine the best conservation practices to improve and protect the resources on their land.
All eight states are using the same dates for the sign-up. Interested landowners should contact their local USDA office before June 8, 2012, to apply. Of the $24 million, $10 million will be directed at reducing phosphorus loading in three specific watersheds in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. The Maumee River (Upper Blanchard) watershed has been selected as the priority watershed in Ohio, which includes portions of: Hancock, Hardin, Seneca and Wyandot Counties. The following counties are included in the entire GLRI watershed: Mercer, Van Wert, Paulding, Defiance, Williams, Fulton, Henry, Putnam, Allen, Auglaize, Hardin, Marion, Wyandot, Crawford, Seneca, Sandusky, Ottawa, Wood, Lucas and Hancock.
“The GLRI is a multi-agency group working together to improve and protect the waters of the Great Lakes Basin,” Cosby said. “NRCS is proud to be able to work with farmers and landowners on private lands who are doing their part to improve the resources.”
This year, GLRI focuses on practices that have the highest benefit for reducing water quality degradation due to agricultural runoff, and practices that establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat and assist in controlling invasive species.
Examples of these practices include waste storage facilities, residue management, no-till, nutrient management, tree planting, wetland creation, upland wildlife management, and brush management, among others.
“The farmers and landowners who come to us for help are really the ones that deserve the credit,” Cosby said. “We provide them with information on the scientifically-proven practices and where best to use them, as well as financing to help pay for them, but it’s their land and they make the decisions.”