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Ranchers can request farm bill funds for projects on public land



For years, the Farm Bill has provided financial assistance to agricultural producers to install conservation practices on their private land. Now that same opportunity is available on public lands in Nevada, those lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and other federal and state agencies.

“Sage-grouse habitat improvement, wildfire restoration and fencing are just a few of the practices that can be applied on public land using Farm Bill funds,” said Bruce Petersen, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Nevada.

The NRCS has been working with the BLM and FS to identify projects that are ready to be installed. Both agencies require environmental assessments and compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before improvements can be made on public land.

“We have several projects statewide that have already been cleared and are just waiting for funding,” said Ron Wenker, state director for the Bureau of Land Management. “The ability to spend Farm Bill funds on public land is a win-win situation for producers and agencies alike.”

Jeanne Higgins, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor, agrees. “This provides an opportunity to work across landscapes with willing landowners and other agencies to achieve common conservation goals,” said Higgins.

The NRCS has just launched a new initiative to help sage-grouse and improve working lands in eleven western states. Landowners in Nevada are eligible to receive payments to remove pinyon-juniper trees, restore burned areas, retrofit fences and install escape ramps in water tanks. “Being able to do these practices on public lands will help us be even more successful protecting the bird and its habitat,” said Petersen.

Applicants must be the permittee on the land where the work is being done, and must meet the eligibility requirements of the 2008 Farm Bill for the Environmental Quality Incentives and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Programs. The same payment rates apply for both public and private land, and historically underserved, beginning and limited resource producers receive a higher percentage. All environmental clearances must be completed on public lands according to that agency’s policies before practices can be installed. Producers pay for the cost of installing the approved practices and are reimbursed once the practices are installed according to NRCS specifications.

Interested producers should contact their local NRCS, BLM or FS office for more information. Applications for financial assistance must to be filed with the local NRCS office.

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