One of the challenges faced by landowners is ability to maintain good or improve plant communities for both livestock and wildlife. Wildlife and habitat management have become increasingly important in recent years because of the recreational value of providing healthy, abundant wildlife populations. Hunting in Texas is more popular than ever, but the costs of wildlife habitat management faced by landowners are more expensive than ever. The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) management grants can help.
“Applications for funding opportunities with the USDA’s NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) are currently being accepted at all NRCS offices across Texas. NRCS in Texas has received its initial allocation of EQIP funding for 2013 and will begin ranking and obligating EQIP contracts after February 15. All agriculture producers interested in submitting an EQIP contract application for 2013 should do so before this ranking deadline.
EQIP is a voluntary, continuous sign-up program that allows landowners or operators to apply for financial and technical assistance for the application of specific conservation practices; but the deadline for the first 2013 funding is February 15, 2013. Contracts are offered for wildlife management periodically depending on budgetary allocations. Applications made after the deadline will be considered in the next funding cycle. Higher priority will be given to those applications that address national, state and local priorities and provide higher cost efficiency.
NRCS encourages any person interested in participating in their programs to contact their local field office, usually located at the county seat. EQIP offers technical and financial help to install or implement structural, vegetative, and habitat management practices that can benefit the soil, water, air, plants, livestock, and wildlife. Each county in the state is funded yearly to assist producers financially with these land management practices.
Last year, NRCS in Texas funded over 4,000 EQIP contracts with $76 million to accomplish conservation practices such as irrigation efficiency, minimum tillage, brush management and more on 2.1 million acres across the entire state. In addition to helping our environment, Farm Bill conservation program funds support rural communities. In Texas, it is estimated that each dollar of NRCS and private matching expenditures on NRCS conservation programs generates an additional $2.54 in sales of goods and services.
For more information, including eligibility requirements, call the USDA Service Center office serving the county where your land is located. Service center locations and program information can be found on the Texas NRCS web site.”
Habitat management leads to better plant communities and increased hunting opportunities, but it can also be expensive to implement. The EQIP program is a good way to cost-share and get on-the-ground work accomplished on your property.
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