State Conservationist Carrie Lindig for USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Jersey said, “This national grant competition is designed to focus on innovative conservation projects that promote science-based solutions to benefit both producers and the environment.”
“In 2016, USDA is seeking national CIG applications for innovative conservation projects to benefit historically underserved agricultural producers, improve and protect water quality, and demonstrate the effectiveness of public private partnerships for conservation, sustainable agriculture and forestry,” Lindig said.
Up to $2 million of this fiscal year’s national CIG funding has been set aside for projects targeted to historically underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and those with limited resources.
USDA is also seeking national CIG proposals for projects to stimulate natural resource solutions to protect or improve the quality of ground and surface water. Also for 2016, USDA is seeking projects that develop additional innovative investment strategies that leverage private capital for private lands conservation.
To date, one New Jersey application for the national grant competition has been funded. The Cape Atlantic Conservation District received a national CIG award of $91,705 in 2013 for their proposed project, Expanding Pollinator Species Habitat Sites Utilizing Compost Filter Socks.
The District wanted to expand or enhance pollinator species habitat areas by taking the technology of establishing a grass cover with vegetated compost filter socks and adapting it to establish on-farm pollinator habitat areas with native wildflowers. The District has started to compile their findings from the project and will be presenting lessons learned at a workshop in Mays Landing on March 24.
Applications for national CIG projects are due by May 10, 2016. More information is available on the national NRCS CIG website. CIG awards are made through a nationally competitive process. Projects may be single or multi-year, but cannot exceed three years.
CIG is part of NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Projects must involve EQIP-eligible agricultural producers or landowners. At least 50 percent of the total cost of CIG projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including in-kind contributions.
The announcement for program funding can be found here or by using the search function to search for “Conservation Innovation Grants” on www.grants.gov. Completed applications should be submitted by May 10, 2016, through www.grants.gov with a pdf to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about CIGs in New Jersey, please visit www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov and navigate through Programs, then Financial Assistance to the Conservation Innovation Grants page on the New Jersey NRCS website. The State component of the Conservation Innovation Grant Program will be announced later this month.
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