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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

February 9, 2016

$8.1 Million in Assistance Available to Plant Trees, Protect Streams and Fields

Submitted by Jennifer G. Williams

Eroded Streambank

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for Kansas Forest Service’s “Water Quality Improvement through the Implementation of Forestry Practices” initiative. A five-year partnership agreement between NRCS and the Kansas Forest Service provides free technical assistance, in addition to $8.1 million in financial assistance to landowners who implement conservation practices, such as planting trees to control erosion and improve water quality.

With additional financial assistance from Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy groups, a landowner would only need to cover 10 percent of the total conservation project cost.

“This project provides a great opportunity where conservation stewardship can add value to the property at a reasonable cost,” said Eric Banks, NRCS Kansas state conservationist.

Assistance is available for landowners in targeted watersheds. Many Kansas streams in the eastern one-third of Kansas lack adequate tree cover to stabilize streambanks.

According to the Kansas Water Office, federal reservoirs in Kansas serve as the source of municipal and industrial water for more than two-thirds of the state’s population. Runoff and erosion contribute to sedimentation of these reservoirs. Trees help stabilize river banks, keep debris off of fields, and ultimately improve water quality by reducing sediment entry into streams. This program also funds the improvement of the quality and productivity of woodlands and forests, which are vital to overall watershed health.

This type of partnership agreement is a new feature included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, it encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales. The program lets partners (such as the Kansas Forest Service) stretch their resources and share expertise to help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas.

Applications will be taken until funding is exhausted, and the project will be funded on a first come, first served basis as long as the resource concern meets the NRCS and Kansas Forest Service conservation criteria.

For more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, call or visit your local NRCS office located in USDA Service Centers. Locations and contact information are available online at Natural Resources Conservation Service Kansas by clicking on “Find a Service Center” under “Kansas Links.” Eligible areas and more information can be found on the Kansas Forest Service website, or by calling or emailing Bob Atchison, rural forestry coordinator with the Kansas Forest Service, 785-532-3310 or atchison@ksu.edu.