Agricultural producers can get paid to prevent wildfires

Agricultural producers can get paid to prevent wildfires

 12 October 2007

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USA — The Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering special payments to Nevada’s agricultural producers who are willing to help prevent wildfires.

So far this year, 777 wildfires ravaged over 895,000 acres, about 1,400 square miles, of Nevada’s rangeland, destroying personal property, important grazing land and wildlife habitat. Last year, 1.3 million acres burned, and in 1999, 1.6 million acres were lost.

“We need to break this cycle of extremely large wildfires,” said Richard Vigil, state conservationist for the NRCS in Nevada. “These fires spread over vast expanses of land because there is nothing natural to stop them.”

The Nevada NRCS Fire Presuppression Program offers landowners incentive and cost-share payments for installing wildfire presuppression measures on private land through the 2008 Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Producers can sign up for the program through Oct. 26 at local NRCS offices. Applications received after that date will be held for future consideration.

Some of the eligible practices covered under the program include fuels and grazing management, weed control, fencing, wildlife plantings, pipelines and access roads.

Boyd Spratling, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, supports the program. “Presuppression is a great step in the right direction. We support the healthy management of both public and private lands, and in this case the management of these lands bordering each other. By breaking up fuel continuity across the landscape the spread of wildland fire will be more manageable, and potentially less catastrophic. We support the efforts of private land owners and the NRCS in the state of Nevada who are actively pursuing presuppression measures on the land.”

“We’re already offering producers payments to help them restore private land after a wildfire,” said Rod Dahl, NRCS program specialist. “We’re hoping by offering this program to prevent wildfires we’ll be able to decrease the cost of fighting fires and eliminate the costs associated with repairing the damage they cause.”

The amount of money a producer will receive depends on the practices applied but as an example, a producer with 2,000 acres can earn about $12.00 an acre per year. Over five years, that’s an estimated $120,000.

“This is a win-win situation for everybody,” said Vigil. “Landowners will be protecting their land and livestock from wildfire and governmental agencies will be reducing their costs to fight fires. Taxpayers win, wildlife wins, we all have a healthier environment.”

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