Deadline for conservation program nears

Deadline for conservation program nears The deadline for application submissions for the Conservation Partnership Initiative (CPI) is Feb. 17. Completed applications must be submitted to the Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist in Huron. CPI awards will be selected through a nationwide competition.

The Conservation Partnership Initiative (CPI) is a voluntary program established to foster conservation partnerships that focus technical and financial resources on critical natural resource issues in watersheds or airsheds of special significance.

Under CPI, funds are awarded to state and local governments and agencies, Indian tribes, and non-governmental organizations that have a history of working with agricultural producers.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced in December 2004 that up to $1 million is available in fiscal year 2005 Conservation Partnership Initiative (CPI) grants.

"This program helps farmers and ranchers achieve critical conservation goals and protect natural resources. These grants encourage partnerships to devise and implement regional solutions to pressing natural resource priorities associated with agriculture and rural settings," Veneman said.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that is available on the agency's Web site and the Federal eGrants Web site at http://www.grants.gov.

CPI is carried out through two phases. First, applicants must submit proposals for project planning funds to the appropriate NRCS state conservationist. Applicants may request between $50,000 and $200,000 in funding through CPI for the project planning phase and must provide a 1:1 match using non-NRCS funding.

Up to 100 percent of the match may come from in-kind contributions.

CPI applications must adhere to the CPI objectives and address one or more of the five conservation priorities identified for fiscal year 2005.

The five conservation priorities are: terrestrial and freshwater aquatic wildlife habitat, invasive species, livestock nutrient management, minor/specialty crop pest management, and agricultural air quality.

In addition, CPI projects must be consistent with the following four CPI objectives. Projects must encourage: producers to cooperate in project planning and the establishment of project goals, as well as the installation and maintenance of conservation practices that affect multiple agricultural operations; producers to share information and technical and financial resources; cumulative and demonstrable conservation benefits in geographic areas; and development and demonstration of innovative conservation methods.

Selected applicants will have up to 18 months to develop the partnership, generate producer interest and participation, and prepare a final project plan. Following completion and approval of the final project plan, the project implementation phase may begin.

Applicants are expected to secure project implementation funds from a wide range of potential partners including local, state and federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

For additional information on CPI including the RFP, log on to http://www.nr cs.usda.gov/programs/cpi.

For more information about CPI, contact Kim Brannen, Natural Resources Conservation Service at 605-352-1200.

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