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USDA NRCS Announces Conservation Innovation Grants / Funding Match

PALMER, Alaska - April 9, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering approximately $25 million in matching funds for projects through its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). For the first time, Alaskans have the option to compete nation-wide or in Alaska only. The nation-wide competition offers a match up to $1 million per grant and the Alaskan in-state only competition offers a maximum match of $75,000.  

"USDA's investment in these matching grants will advance our goal of producing long-term dividends in environmental enhancement and protection," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

"NRCS Alaska is excited to offer the Alaskan in-state only grant.  The Alaskans' only grant will allow projects specific to Alaska the individual recognition and funding they need," said State Conservationist Bob Jones.

NRCS will use these competitive matching grants to seek creative solutions to assist producers with agricultural and natural resource issues. In addition to market-based approaches to conservation, emerging issues include energy conservation, specialty crops, and new methods of tackling climate change. The grants also will fund solutions to improve water, soil and air quality, improve nutrient management, and enhance wildlife habitat and pollinator populations.

CIG, a component of NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), is available to federally-recognized Indian and Alaska Native tribes, state and local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals. CIG funds one-to-three year projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Proposed projects should be well developed and have an existing funding match.

NRCS will use a two-phased approach to award CIGs this year. Applicants to the nation-wide grant must submit pre-proposals to NRCS's National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. by 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Monday, April 26, 2010. Applications will be accepted from the 50 states, Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and the Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). The selected pre-proposals full applications will then be required to be submitted by June 4, 2010.

The same two-phased approach will be used for the Alaskan in-state only grants.  Pre-proposals for the Alaskan in-state only grants are due on Monday May 3, 2010 by 4:00 p.m. Alaska Standard Time (AKST) and should be submitted to the Alaska NRCS State Office in Palmer, Alaska. The selected pre-proposals full applications will be due Monday June 14, 2010. For more information about the Alaskan in-state only grant contact NRCS State Agronomist Helen Denniston by email at helen.denniston@ak.usda.gov or by telephone at (907) 761-7756.  Another contact is Resources Conservationist Scott Crockett, available by email at scott.crockett@ak.usda.gov. or by telephone at (907) 761-7746.

All CIG projects must include agricultural producers who meet EQIP eligibility requirements. For more information about the EQIP eligibility requirements, please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip. Information about the CIG Announcement of Program Funding can be found at www.grants.gov where applicants can apply electronically, and at the CIG Web page at www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/cig/index.html.

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