Money For Wildlife Projects

Published online: Oct 24, 2005 NRCS Conservation Service
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Over $1 million in conservation funding for species of concern will be available to Idaho's private landowners this year.

Landowners interested in enhancing habitat for declining species in Idaho can apply for cost-share through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) or Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), both are administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

NRCS will accept WHIP applications for projects that benefit native trout species in the Teton and Bear Rivers in eastern Idaho, on declining ground squirrels in southwestern Idaho, and on streams with remaining populations of Salmon and Steelhead in the northern part of the state. Fisheries projects to remove downstream passage barriers or screening of water diversion will be top priority.

The EQIP special project funds for declining species are available throughout Idaho. The list of species is extensive and ranges from the Bruneau Hot Springs snail to the prairie grasses in North Idaho.

However, the application deadline is Nov. 22 -- landowners will want to visit their local NRCS office sooner than later.

"Don't worry if you haven't worked out all the details for you project," says Bob Bartholomew, NRCS assistant state conservationist for programs. "Come in and sign up now, and our conservationists will help you work through your project specifications this winter."

NRCS Chief Bruce Knight is allocating state money for the 2002 Farm Bill programs, such as EQIP and WHIP, earlier this year to help landowners implement their conservation practices before spring planting.

In 2005, Idaho received $14.2 million in EQIP funding with close to $2 million going toward species of concern projects. Idaho also received over $700,000 in WHIP funding.

Conservation practices that help protect species of concern include native plantings, prescribed grazing, pest management and water control structures. Applicants are encouraged to work closely with a representative of a state of federal wildlife agency, such as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with their local NRCS representative to complete the application.

Cost share rates for these special projects are generally 75 percent, 25 percent higher than the general EQIP program.

Special money is also available throught EQIP for energy conservation projects, with a special emphasis on landowners interested in converting pressure irrigation systems to 100 percent gravity pressure sprinklers.

Producers can stop by their local NRCS office to pick up application information and a new EQIP self-assessment form being used this year.