$131 Million Invested in Conservation in California in Fiscal Year 2011
Conservation planning and funding helped California's farmers and ranchers get significant conservation on the ground
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California worked hand-in-hand with thousands of farmers and ranchers, awarding $131 million to help them protect water, soil and air resources, wildlife, forests, and rangelands throughout the State in fiscal year 2011. Agricultural producers also paid approximately 50 percent of the conservation costs with their own money.
NRCS California entered into more than 2,200 contracts with agricultural producers this fiscal year. The funding was distributed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) as well as other programs providing cost share and easement opportunities.
Of the 105 conservation practices undertaken by California farmers and ranchers, the largest investments in 2011 were made in the following areas: 1) improved efficiency on irrigation systems and irrigation management; 2) improved air quality through diesel engine technology enhancement; 3) dairy water quality protection plans and structures; 4) fencing and brush management for sustainability and rangeland health; 5) shallow water management for shorebirds and waterfowl; and 6) forest stand improvement. Dozens of additional practices were used as well.
"When we pause at years' end to reflect on the enormity of the work being done, we are reminded again of the dedication and conservation ethic of all the farmers and ranchers throughout California who are working with us," says Ed Burton, NRCS California state conservationist. "We are proud to be partners with them in helping them care for the land."
Burton also says that farmers and ranchers are increasingly working with NRCS to develop conservation plans that provide a road map to realize their landscape goals for better production and environmental quality. "We have made a big effort to offer conservation planning as part of our technical and financial assistance and increasingly California producers are using this tool to incrementally and successfully build their vision for their land."
Special initiatives undertaken in 2011 included partnering with California's rice growers to improve migratory bird habitat in Glenn and Colusa counties, and the first year of a national initiative to improve water quality, water quantity and habitat for the Bay Delta ecosystem.
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