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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov Media Contact: Lori Valadez, NRCS Public Affairs Specialist, lori.valadez@tx.usda.gov, (254) 742-9811; Norman Bade, NRCS Asst. State Conservationist for Programs, norman.bade@tx.usda.gov, (254) 742-9881

Oct. 16, 2006

Dec. 15 Is Deadline Set for 2007 Environmental Quality Incentives Program

TEMPLE, Texas — The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas has set a Dec. 15, 2006, sign-up deadline for the 2007 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These federal grants help farmers and ranchers improve natural resources on private land in Texas, and they have become increasingly important for a range of wildlife species, from game animals like quail to endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker.

The grant process includes local work groups who identify the most important natural resource issues in their area. Through EQIP, NRCS also funds projects that address special statewide resource concerns recommended by the Texas State Technical Committee. The 2007 statewide resource concerns are animal waste, invasive species, plant condition, water quality, water quantity, and wildlife emphasis areas.

EQIP grants in Texas have funded range and pasture management and reforestation of areas impacted by Hurricane Rita, improved irrigation systems, brush removal, and invasive species control primarily focused on Chinese tallow and salt cedar.

Since 2003, 185 EQIP wildlife contracts have been written in Texas worth more than $7.1 million for a variety of wildlife projects involving declining species in five focus areas. These include projects to help the lesser prairie chicken and blacktailed prairie dog in the Panhandle, quail and grassland birds in the Rolling Plains, quail and Attwater's greater prairie chicken in South Texas, red-cockaded woodpecker and quail in Longleaf Pine ecosystems and, new for 2006, black-capped vireo projects in Central Texas.

Immediately following the end of the current sign-up period, all applications will be ranked. Producers with an approved application will work with an NRCS conservation planner to develop a contract and a plan and will begin implementing conservation practices next spring.

Local NRCS field offices have complete details for their county and the applicable state concerns. Additional information, including ranking criteria, eligible practices, and cost-share rates for all programs, can also be found on the Texas NRCS Web Site.

http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/EQIP/index.html

TH 2006-10-16


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