Category Archives: NRCS

NRCS Meeting in Carey on GRP

Tonight, the Pioneers Alliance is hosting an informational session with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to discuss sign up opportunities for land owners for the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). To learn more about this program follow this link.

The meeting will held at 6:00pm at Carey City Hall.

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Conservation Funding Available for Farmers and Ranchers

A great opportunity has come up for farmers and ranchers in Idaho to preserve their legacy of stewardship and protect sage grouse habitat. Funding is available for conservation easements through the NRCS’s Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). 5.5 million dollars are available for Idaho and interested landowners need to sign up by July 20th. An informational meeting about the program will be held July 14th at Carey City Hall at 5:30 p.m.
Read the press releases from the NRCS for more information.

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Apply now for Sage Grouse Initiative Funding

The latest press release on SGI from the NRCS:

Farmers and ranchers wanting to improve rangeland conditions while protecting sage-grouse populations and habitat in Idaho can apply for funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Sage-Grouse Initiative. Applications received before April 15 will be ranked for funding in fiscal year 2011.

The Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI) helps pay for putting specific conservation practices in place that will improve sage-grouse habitat or reduce threats to bird survival. Many of these practices can also make rangeland conditions better for livestock. Idaho received just over $3 million for the initiative this year. Landowners in the historic range for sage-grouse are eligible to apply for the initiative.

“The Sage-grouse Initiative supports both sustainable ranching and healthy sage-grouse populations by focusing on improving rangeland conditions,” said Jeff Burwell, Idaho NRCS State Conservationist. “Some of the practices used to improve sage-grouse habitat are the same practices required to maintain healthy grazing land for livestock.”

NRCS spent over $1 million in 2010, the first year for the Sage-grouse Initiative. Producers across southern Idaho used the initiative to help fund projects that enhanced sage-grouse habitat and also improved range condition such as:

  • Seeding rangeland to increase availability of sage-grouse food plants and improve livestock forage;
  • Installing new fencing and water developments to assist grazing management;
  • Removing juniper trees in key breeding, brood-rearing and wintering sites to restore sage-grouse habitat and increase livestock forage production; and
  • Improving grazing systems to incorporate a rest period to improve sage-grouse cover during the nesting season.

Declining sage-grouse populations and habitat across the west generated interest in helping the species so that it will not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The species depends on sagebrush for cover and food and are found at elevations ranging from 4,000 to over 9,000 feet.

For more information on the initiative, contact your local NRCS office or visit our Web site http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/sage_grouse/index.html.

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Signup Open for Sage-grouse Habitat Improvement Projects

The NRCS recently announced that there will be an increase in funding available this year to help Idaho’s farmers and ranchers protect sage-grouse habitat. This is part of the Sage-grouse initiative, which helps farmers and ranchers implement specific conservation practices that will improve sage-grouse habitat and may also improve rangeland conditions.

Producers can signup now and those applications received before April 15 will be ranked in fiscal year 2011.

“The Sage-grouse Initiative supports both sustainable ranching and healthy sage-grouse populations by focusing on improving rangeland conditions,” said Jeff Burwell, Idaho NRCS State Conservationist.  “Some of the practices used to improve sage-grouse habitat are the same practices required to maintain healthy grazing land for livestock.”

Last year, NRCS helped to fund projects such as:

  • Seeding rangeland to increase availability of sage-grouse food plants and improve livestock forage
  • Installing new fencing and water developments to assist grazing management
  • Removing juniper trees in key breeding, brood-rearing and wintering sites to restore sage-grouse habitat and increase livestock forage production
  • Improving grazing systems to incorporate a rest period to improve sage-grouse cover during the nesting season.

For more information on the initiative visit the NRCS website. To apply for funding, contact Kevin Davidson in the Shoshone field office.

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Sage Grouse and NRCS

NRCS Chief White recently announced that efforts to improve habitat for sage-grouse are already paying off, as a result of the agency’s partnerships with farmers and ranchers.

“Working together with Western farmers and ranchers, we are creating a landscape where this declining species can not only survive, but will one day thrive,” White said. “The steps we have taken are already yielding powerful results and providing affirmation that we can maintain and improve working lands while also nurturing species like the sage-grouse that need our attention.”

photo by Michael Edminster

Sage-grouse in the Pioneers

With financial support from NRCS through the Sage Grouse Initiative, producers marked or removed 180 miles of wire fencing near leks where sage-grouse carry out display and courtship behavior, which prevented between 800 and 1,000 sage-grouse collisions. To give a sense of how impressive this is, this is about the same number as all male sage-grouse that were counted on leks annually in California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Farmers and ranchers improved sage-grouse hiding cover on 640,000 acres of grazing lands during nesting season, which is expected to increase sage-grouse populations between 8-10%. They also improve sage-grouse habitat by removing 40,000 acres of encroaching conifer in key breeding, brood-rearing and wintering sites.

To ensure that farmers and ranchers have the resources to continue improving sage-grouse habitat, NRCS will provide $30 million in 2011 through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

Producers who enroll in NRCS programs that benefit sage-grouse will be able to continue operating in compliance even if sage-grouse are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Read the full press release from NRCS here.

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Pioneers Listed as Priority GRP Area

NRCS recently announced that the private lands in the foothills of the Pioneer mountains will be considered a priority area for NRCS’s Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP). This breakthrough is the result of both the efforts of the Pioneers Alliance and NRCS’s recognition of the importance of protecting this landscape and its working farmlands from development. Read the press release from NRCS here.
The Grasslands Reserve Program provides funding for conservation easements, which ensure that working farms remain working farms now and into the future. Learn more about GRP through this fact sheet.
Applications are due October 1st. The application is very straightforward and easy to complete. We encourage you to apply by calling Kevin Davidson at 866.2258 (extension 3). Please call Mike Stevens (788.1710) with any questions.

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