Please note this opportunity for you to influence priorities for local conservation funding.  We hope that many on these lists can participate as outlined below.


Susan Smalley
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USDA Seeks Local Input on Conservation Priorities
 
EAST LANSING, Dec. 1, 2009 The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking local input from residents, landowners and organizations that will help determine how USDA conservation program funds are utilized in Michigan. Volunteers are sought to serve on local workgroups that will help identify and prioritize natural resources concerns. Input from the locally-led workgroups will be used in the development of ranking questions for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service financial assistance programs. These programs include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).  The ranking questions determine which applications submitted by agricultural producers and landowners will be selected for funding.

In fiscal year 2010, twenty five percent of the ranking scores for EQIP and WHIP applications will consist of ranking questions developed from resource issues identified by locally led workgroups. An essential element of locally-led conservation is input from a broad range of agencies, organizations, businesses, and individuals in the local area that have an interest in natural resource management and are familiar with local resource needs and conditions. These representatives should reflect the diversity of the residents, landowners, and land operators in the local area.

Locally-led workgroups are being asked to develop lists of up to ten resource priorities for land uses such as crop land, forest land, pasture land, organic agriculture and wildlife habitat. The local resource priorities can be resource concerns such as high levels of nutrients in surface water, resource issues such as promoting hardwood generation, or priority practices such as encouraging no-till.  More information will be provided at the local workgroup meetings. The most common resource issues will be turned into ranking questions for EQIP and WHIP applications. Additionally, the priority resource issues identified may be used to develop ranking questions for other programs and initiatives requiring local input throughout the year. 

The first meetings will be held in December and the local workgroups can expect another meeting to update the resource issue list within the next year. The best way to find meeting times and locations or indicate your interest for future meetings is to contact your local NRCS field office.  The field office directory can be found online at:  http://www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/.
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