USDA requests proposals for $20 million for conservation innovation grants

The United States Department of Agriculture announced that $20 million will be available to fund selected Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) proposals in FY 2007. A synopsis of the request for proposals was placed on the Federal eGrant website (www.grants.gov) on December 1, 2006 . Applicants will have 60 days to submit proposals. The 2002 Farm Bill established these grants as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The funds will be awarded through a nationwide grant competition after February 2, 2007 .

“The CIG categories available in Oklahoma in FY 2007 are the Natural Resource Concerns category and the Technology category that provide opportunity to promote and institutionalize new conservation technologies and stimulate innovative approaches to environmental enhancement and protection on working lands,” according to District Conservationist, Cherrie Brown. “Farmers and ranchers will benefit by having new technologies to protect the environment and comply with federal, state, and local regulations.”

The synopsis for the grant opportunity for FY 2007 is available at: http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?oppId=11733&mode=VIEW. The full Announcement of Program Funding (APF) is available at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/pdf_files/CIG07WebFinal.pdf.

Conservation Innovation Grant proposals will be accepted from eligible governmental or nongovernmental organizations and individuals for innovative single or multi-year projects involving producers who are eligible for EQIP. The grants will fund projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Technologies and approaches that are commonly used in the geographic area of the proposal and which are eligible for EQIP funding are not eligible for funding through CIG. Proposed projects must conform to the description for innovative conservation projects or activities published in the APF. Project proposals may address areas such as market-based pollution credit trading, agricultural conservation systems, carbon sequestration, and reduction of applied nutrients.

CIG projects can last from one to three years. Selected applicants may receive grants up to 50 percent of the total project cost. Applicants must provide nonfederal matching funds for at least 50 percent of the project cost. The federal contribution may not exceed $1 million for a single project. While NRCS will provide technical oversight for each project receiving an award, the grantee is responsible for providing the technical assistance required to successfully complete the project.

Additional information and application materials for Conservation Innovation Grants are available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig, or your local NRCS, or Cimarron County Conservation District office at 210 S Cimarron, or by calling 580-544-2812.