COLUMBUS — The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service opened a new three-year initiative to provide accelerated conservation assistance for farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin, which includes land in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program will be used to fund applications. The deadline for submitting applications is April 29. These funds will be available for the three-year period of fiscal years 2016-2018.
In the initiative, targeting funds will happen in two ways — targeting locales within the basin and giving higher priority to certain applications. Applications with 100 percent of the land located within the western basin that contain soils with a high risk for leaching or surface run-off, land with high soil test phosphorus levels, and land with direct drainage to tributaries in the basin will receive priority.
Producers in the following counties may apply (some counties have only a small area in the basin):
- Indiana — Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Noble, Steuben, Wells;
- Michigan — Branch, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Wayne;
- Ohio — Allen, Ashland, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lorain, Lucas, Marion, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot.
Landowners should make an appointment with their local NRCS office as soon as possible to begin the conservation planning process. With the projected $36 million in NRCS state EQIP allocations, the WLEB Initiative brings an additional $41 million to the WLEB for a total of $77 million in financial assistance available in the WLEB.
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