Disaster assistance available to producers affected by wildfires

Disaster assistance available to producers affected by wildfires

09 March 2012

published by www.news-journal.com

USA– USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Salvador Salinas announced today that $4 million in disaster assistance is available to help with recovery after the 2011 historic drought and wildfire conditions across much of the state. Funds are being made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides both financial and technical assistance to install measures that reduce post-fire damage and aid in the rehabilitation process.

“Many parts of Texas were affected by wildfires over the last year,” said Salinas. “Loss of vegetation not only affects production, livestock and wildlife; it also makes the land vulnerable to erosion by wind and water.

“Our assistance will enable landowners and livestock producers to accelerate the recovery of the health and vigor of the affected grazing and forest land,” Salinas said.

Although EQIP sign-up is continuous, applications for this first funding period will be accepted in the County NRCS offices through April 13. In order to apply, landowners must visit the local NRCS office to fill out an application. Applications will be ranked and those approved for funding will be offered an EQIP contract.

A priority will be placed on land affected by wildfires with an emphasis on conservation practices that will help restore plant health and condition, prevent soil erosion, and address soil quality and water quality.

For forest land, NRCS personnel can provide assistance for re-establishing trees, including site prep, seedling purchase, planting and thinning.

On grazing land, practices such as grazing deferment, cross fencing, reseeding and water development are effective post-fire strategies to help reduce erosion and re-establish wildlife.

Salinas suggests landowners consult with their local NRCS district conservationist to develop a conservation plan, which can be an effective strategy for forest and rangeland recovery and mitigating the effects of the prolonged drought Texas is experiencing.

NRCS services and programs are voluntary and offered without a fee to all agricultural producers. NRCS helps landowners and land managers protect and improve the natural resources on their property, including soil, water, air, plants, and animals.

For further assistance in evaluating your land and planning practices, or to address concerns following a wildfire, contact your local NRCS or Soil and Water Conservation District. USDA Service Center offices are located in almost every county and are listed in phonebooks under federal and state government, or online at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.

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