Category Archives: Grant Announcements

Navigating the Idaho 319 Program

By: Matt Woodard, Chairman of the East Side Soil and Water Conservation District

Section 319 of the Clean Water Act established a grant program under which states, territories, and tribes may receive funds to support a wide variety of non-point source pollution management activities, including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific non-point source implementation projects.  Source

A good 319 project is regionally significant, important to many agencies, addresses multiple concerns, has multiple benefits beyond water quality, watershed based, on the 303(d) list, and has public outreach such as statewide/local press.

Letters of recommendation about your project are a critical part of your 319 application.  Letters from your local WAG, soil conservation district chairman, DEQ water quality administrator, supporting agencies (like USFC, IDFG, NRCS) county commissioners, city officials, other state/fed reps), environmental organizations, trade associations (like IASCD), industry associations are all examples of acceptable support letters.  Be sure each letter is signed, dated, and provided to DEQ with the completed application.  A large, diverse support base often receives a greater consideration during the competitive funding process.

The maximum amount of funding you can receive from a 319 grant is $250,000.  319 grants will fund up to 60% of the total project.  The remaining 40% needs to be non-federal funding in the form of match funds (hard or soft, or in kind).  You should know that only 10% of the grant can go to administrative costs; administrators like to see the maximum amount of funding go to an on-the-ground project.

Timeline For FY 2014 319 Grant Funding

April 8, 2013: Pre-Application Process Opens

May 6, 2013: Pre-Application Process Closes

May 31, 2013: All pre-application reviews to be completed; DEQ will communicate with applications on any questions they have on your project.

August 1, 2013: A completed online application is due to be received by DEQ; prior to that, the project should have been reviewed by the local WAG.  Their approval of the project is necessary for it to go forward.

September 13, 2013: All qualifying project applications are to be sent to the respective BAG chairman for review.

October 1-31, 2013: Each applicant is required to present their project to the respective BAG.  The BAG will rank projects based on regional importance, the amount of funding requested, and other factors.

November 6, 2013: Results of each regional project ranking are summarized and forwarded to each regional BAG chair.

December 2, 2013: DEQ Water Quality staff and the chair from each BAG meet in Boise to discuss the projects.  From this group of projects comes the final rank in order of priority.

Approximately $1.2 million is awarded state wide each year, and has grown very competitive.  Your project should be thought out and address those multiple concerns.  A good Power Point with lots of photos of the project area and a budget breakdown is a great idea for your presentation.  Also, get to know your local DEQ water quality manager.  You should ask them lots questions.  They are there to help you!

Finally, mark your calendar for April 30th.  The Balanced Rock and Twin Falls SWCDs are holding a training day for 319 grants.  The hours are from 9am to 3pm, at the Jerome Fish and Game Office.


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NRCS Announces Special Initatives For Fiscal Year 2012

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering conservation assistance to Idaho agricultural producers and landowners through three special initiatives:  the On-Farm Energy Initiative, Organic Initiative and Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative.  NRCS accepts applications for assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year.  There will be three ranking periods for these special initiatives ending on February 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012.

“These initiatives provide a different approach to conserving resources on Idaho’s agricultural lands,” said Jeff Burwell, NRCS State Conservationist. “By offering initiatives that respond to changing conditions in agricultural production NRCS can be more effective in helping producers maintain sustainable operations.”

Brief overviews of the initiatives are listed below:

On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. The audits assess power usage for equipment, farming processes, and farm headquarters including efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities that support the farm operation.

Organic Initiative: NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. New for fiscal year 2012, the application evaluation process has been changed to support implementation of conservation practices in a timelier manner.

Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefit plant and soil quality and reduce nutrient and pesticide use.  This initiative is available statewide and is not restricted to organic producers as it was last year.

For more specific information on these initiatives or to learn more about eligibility requirements, stop by your local USDA service center or visit NRCS online at

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Secretary Salazar Announces $37.4 Million for State and Local Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Projects

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced $37.4 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in state grants to establish and renovate parks and open spaces throughout the 50 States, the Territories and the District of Columbia for Fiscal Year 2011. Idaho received $391,673 in LWCF grant funds. LWCF state grant funds are awarded through Federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment in America’s state and local public outdoor recreation.

The funds will enable State and local governments to establish urban parks and community green spaces; to restore and provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

For more information about this program in Idaho, please click here. You’ll need to scroll down the page a bit to see the information.

Click here to view the grant application.

Click here to read the 2009 Land and Water Conservation Fund Annual Report.

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Funding Available to Help Farmers Conserve Water in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Region

Farmers in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer region must act quickly to apply for special Agricultural Water Enhancement Program funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to carry out water conservation practices. The sign-up period runs through July 20, 2011.

The Idaho Water Resources Board (IWRB) received special funding through USDA’s Agricultural Water Enhancement Program to help stabilize the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA). The project is a joint effort by the Idaho Water Resources Board and the NRCS.

Farmers can apply for funding to install conservation practices that help reduce ground water withdrawals and increase aquifer recharge. Financial support is available through the NRCS and producers apply to and contract directly with NRCS. Applications must be received by July 20, 2011.

The IWRB identified five actions to help reduce ground water withdrawals and increase water reaching the aquifer through infiltration and recharge: aquifer demand reduction; conversion to dry land farming; transition to crops with lower water requirements; conversion from ground irrigation water to surface water; and, enhancing irrigation systems to improve water delivery.

Stop in your local NRCS field office to find out if this voluntary program can help you. Click here to find out where your local service center is located.

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Additional $5.5 Million to Help Sage Grouse Habitats in Idaho

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Idaho an additional $5.5 million to help conserve critical sage-grouse habitats. The funding is to establish conservation easements through the Grassland Reserve Program that will maintain large tracts of sagebrush habitat important to sage-grouse. Landowners may apply for this program through July 20, 2011.

Ranchers along with local, state and federal agencies in Idaho are working cooperatively to keep the sage-grouse from being listed by focusing on habitat improvements.

For more information on or to apply for NRCS’s Grassland Reserve Program, please visit a local NRCS office or Sign up ends July 20, 2011.

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Reminder: Financial Assistance Available for Idaho’s Organic Producers

This is a reminder that NRCS has an additional funding opportunity for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production to implement resource conservation practices on their agricultural operations. Funds come from a section in the 2008 Farm Bill for organic farmers and those transitioning to organic.

Eligible producers include those certified through USDA’s National Organic Program, those transitioning to certified organic production, and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification because their gross annual organic sales are less than $5,000.

If you’re interested, contact the NRCS service office in your area.

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Financial Assistance Available for Idaho’s Organic Producers

The Idaho NRCS announced that farmers involved in organic production may qualify for funds to start conservation practices related to organic agriculture through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  NRCS is encouraging producers to apply for the EQIP “Organic Initiative” by March 4, 2011 to be considered for this year’s funds.  Both current producers who are certified organic and producers currently transitioning to organic production are eligible to apply.

Producers are also required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan. These plans must be approved by the Idaho Department of Agriculture or a USDA accredited certifier. Applicants with certified organic operations must submit a copy of their current Organic System Plan. Transitioning producers must submit a self-certification letter agreeing to develop and implement an organic system plan.

Some examples of conservation practices that may benefit organic producers include conservation crop rotation, cover crops, and nutrient and pest management.

You can find out more about the Organic Initiative and apply for the program by clicking here.

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