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Natural Resource Conservation Service gets $1.1 M

Posted: July 7, 2011 - 6:57pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alaska has received $1.1 million for land conservation contracts through the Farm Bill Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The funds will go toward projects like trail hardening, high tunnels, fish passage work, stream bank stabilization, erosion countering and forest improvement. This will all be done on privately owned lands, as that is what NRCS works with exclusively.

NRCS Public Affairs Specialist Molly Voeller said some of these funds will go to Southeast projects. She said some may be similar to forest restoration that was done at Starrigavan Creek in Sitka in 2008, a project that is still being monitored. She said Juneau has also benefited from the Service’s aid in several local high tunnels.

Projects for this money include $880,000 under the WHIP program for backlogging pre-approved high priority applications for statewide wildlife habitat concerns. This includes an improved black-tailed deer habitat on Prince of Wales Island, plus habitats for brown bears, moose, waterfowl and others up north. All together, these new contract funds will make for $3 million in conservation contracts in 2011.

The $230,000 from EQIP will be used to partially fund an existing backlog of more than 80 applications. NRCS has already funded 165 EQIP conservation contracts for a total of $8 million in 2011.

The NRCS is accepting applications for private land conservation programs. Applications are ranked and scored to determine fund selection. Applications received after Sept. 15 will be processed for funding in 2012.

For information on applying for NRCS technical service or program participation, contact the Juneau field office at 586-7220 or www.ak.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/fieldoffices.html.

While NRCS works only with privately owned lands, this includes Alaska Native owned property like villages and corporations.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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