NRCS extends application period for grants The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the application period for 2009 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding has been extended to March 20. The previous deadline to submit applications was March 2. "Innovation always has been a hallmark of American agriculture and in keeping with President Obama's focus on science, technology and innovation, these grants will provide an opportunity for citizens to directly engage with promoting a healthy environment and a healthy economy," said Acting NRCS Chief Dave White. "We're extending the application period to make certain those interested have adequate time to submit applications." The Conservation Innovation Grants are aimed at helping achieve and promote innovation in critical areas such as water quality, energy, climate change, and pollinator habitat. NRCS administers the grant program. Grants will be awarded through a nationwide competitive process and can range up to three years in length. Up to $20 million is available for this National competition. Applications will be accepted from all 50 States, the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and the Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). The fiscal year 2009 NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants categories are: • Natural Resource Concerns Category—up to $5 million is available for proposals addressing natural resource issues such as air quality, water quality, wildlife habitat, forest management, nutrient management and other ways to address and meet Federal, State and local environmental requirements. • Technology Category—up to $6 million is available for proposals in new technologies that promote such areas as animal waste management, erosion control, grazing land productivity, irrigation water use, fertilizer use, energy use and carbon sequestration. • Grant Leveraging Category—up to $4 million is available to help leverage grant projects that enhance and protect the environment more by doing so in conjunction with other agricultural production and forest management projects. • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Category—up to $5 million is available for proposals addressing natural resource concerns in the Chesapeake Bay watershed such as erosion and sediment control, carbon sequestration and water quality. Project proposals must describe the geographic area and the natural resource concern or concerns being addressed. Applicants also must describe the innovative technologies or approaches which will be used. Other requirements are identified in the announcement of program funding. NRCS will provide technical oversight for each project receiving an award however; each grantee is responsible for providing the technical assistance required to successfully complete the project NRCS plans to fund projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. The grant is not a research program, but rather a tool to stimulate the adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a high likelihood of success and are likely candidates for eventual transfer of the technology to the public. NRCS can match up to 50 percent of the project when at least 50 percent of the project's total cost (cash and in-kind contributions) comes from non-Federal sources. The federal contribution for a single project cannot exceed $2 million. Applications must be received in the NRCS National Headquarters by close of business March 20. Applications should be sent to: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Conservation Innovation Grants Program; Financial Assistance Programs Division, Room 5239-S; 1400 Independence Ave, SW; Washington, DC 20250. To view the complete announcement of program funding, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/. To apply electronically, go to http://www.grants.gov/. For more information about NRCS conservation programs online, go to http://www.nrcs. usda.gov, or visit the nearest USDA Service Center in your area. Since its inception in 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.