SCD looking for partners to protect water, benefit working lands

Funds available for conservation tillage, buffers and more

It is time for agricultural and timber/forestry landowners to apply for funding to improve production on their working lands and provide environmental benefits. Landowners within the Greater Spokane River Watershed in Washington and Idaho can seek a portion of more than $15 million being invested by a bi-state partnership to improve practices on private agricultural and timber/forest land. The Greater Spokane River Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is seeking landowners to participate in a voluntary, incentive-based program to adopt conservation practices that enhance producer operations, improve soil and forest health, water quality and wildlife habitat.

This is the second year of the five-year program, which provides funds for technical assistance and on- the-ground projects, including Spokane Conservation District’s (SCD) newly developed Commodity Buffer Program. Applications are currently being accepted until Oct. 16, 2017.

The Commodity Buffer Program is a new, innovative approach that compensates producers, based on current crop values rather than the traditional soil rental rate values, for installing stream buffers. Other programs available to landowners with conservation projects include Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP).

The partnership, led by SCD, is hosting three public meetings to share information about the program and the second round of applications. Landowners and producers can learn more about this program at three public meetings. All meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m.:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 13 at DeSmet Tribal Longhouse, Brynes Rd, DeSmet, ID
  • Thursday, Sept. 14 at Green Bluff Grange, 9809 E Greenbluff Rd, Colbert, WA
  • Wednesday, Sept. 20 at the Harvester Restaurant, 410 W 1st St., Spangle, WA

The program is available to landowners in the Spokane River Watershed, which is located in parts of Whitman, Lincoln, Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties in Washington, and parts of Latah, Bonner, Benewah, Kootenai, Shoshone and Clear Water counties in Idaho. Eligible applicants will work with program staff in both states over the fall and winter to develop conservation plans that can be used for federal and partner financial assistance.

For the first year, nearly $1.8 million dollars have been obligated to improve more than 33,000 acres. Practices include conservation tillage, precision nutrient placement and forest stand improvements. Through partner contributions, more than 38 miles of riparian buffers have been installed and/or maintained, including three shoreline restoration projects

To learn more or access online application materials, visit our website. For application questions, contact RCPP Coordinator Charlie Peterson at charlie-peterson@sccd.org or 509-535-5274. Idaho residents can drop off their application material at their local conservation district or NRCS field office.