Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant period open

Applications are now being accepted for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG), with up to $25 million available in 2013 for projects that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies.

The program is open to businesses, universities, governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and individuals.

Applicants may apply for up to $1 million for projects up to three years that encompass the development, field testing, evaluation, implementation, and monitoring of:

• Conservation adoption approaches or incentive systems; or

• Promising conservation technologies, practices, systems, procedures, or approaches; or

• Environmental soundness with goals of environmental protection and natural resource enhancement.

Past successful projects include the installation of biomass converters on poultry farms; the implementation of web based tools to help farmers and ranchers quantify their energy savings; the development of a fish screen technology that allows farmers to divert water without harming fish; the creation of habitat rotations for shorebirds and waterfowl; and an online system to help winegrape growers understand and use environmental accounting tools to promote conservation efforts.

Projects are encouraged in nutrient management, program outreach, energy conservation, soil health, wildlife, economics, and food safety. The list of eligbile project focus areas include, but are not limited to: projects that demonstrate new or novel technologies that lead to significant management efficiencies in farm resource management; projects that assess resource conditions and land capabilities for traditionally underserved groups and communities; projects that demonstrate and quantify the impacts of cover crops, crop rotations, tillage, and/or soil amendments on soil, chemical, physical, and/or biological properties; projects that develop planning and decision aids to assess and maximize wildlife habitat value on land used to grow biofuel crops; and projects that evaluate and demonstrate renewable energy systems that displace fossil fuel energy and meet on-farm energy needs, while increasing energy efficiency and/or reducing environmental contaminants. The full Request for Proposal (RFP) detailing eligible projects is available here.

The program sets aside up to 10 percent of the total grant funds for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Limited Resource Farmers and Ranchers, Indian tribes, and community -based organizations comprised of or representing these persons or entities.

Applicants must provide matching funds of up to 50 percent of the total project cost.

The application period is a two-phase process, and pre-proposal applications are due by 1 p.m. March 22. Applications selected for the second phase will be announced April 15, with full proposals due May 13.

The overall success rate of the CIG program is approximately 20 percent, about average for federal grant programs. SInce 2002, Morrison has maintained a success rate of 83% through multiple programs, mostly federal. If you are interested in learning more about this program and how to apply, please contact Morrison Consultant Toni Scott at tscott@morrisonco.net.

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