Tag Archives: soil conservation districts

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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March/April 2013 eNewsletter Posted

Our March/April 2013 eNewsletter has been posted to our website.  Please click here to read it.

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Senate Ag Chairman Steve Bair Requests Full Funding For 2-to-1 Match

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) wrapped up their budget presentations today with a handful of reports from the Senate and House committee chairmen.  Today’s hearing started promptly at 8:00am with Senate Agricultural Affairs Chairman Steve Bair (R-Blackfoot) discussing the budgets his committee had reviewed.

Bair said they had reviewed the Soil and Water Conservation Commission’s budget, and referenced the two-to-one match was $209,700 from being fully funded.  IASCD and the SWC presented to the Senate Ag Affairs Committee on February 14th, 2013 and discussed the importance of a fully funded match.

Chairman Bair let JFAC know that districts use match funds to leverage grants from the Office of Species Conservation, Bonneville Power Administration, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and even private grants.  He also said that local soil and water conservation districts can play a great role in reducing the TMDL in Idaho’s streams and rivers.  Therefor, the Senate Ag Committee recommended an additional $209,700.

The date for JFAC to hear the SWC’s budget isn’t known at this time, but we will share it with you as soon as it is set.

Thank you Chairman Bair for your strong support!

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Confirmation Hearing for Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner Norman Wright

Early this morning, the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner H. Norman Wright.  Chairman Steve Bair started the hearing promptly at 8:00am, and asked Commissioner Wright to share his qualifications.

Commissioner Wright is an Idaho native, a Boise State alum, and currently serves on the American Falls City Council.

“I have learned a lot on the Commission over the last year,” Wright said.  “It’s different being involved, rather than observing.  I was a loan officer with FSA, and as you know the SWC runs an active loan program.  We have looked at ways to streamline the RCRDP loan program, and try to find more people for it to continue.”

Chairman Bair asked Commissioner Wright what has surprised him most during his service on the Commission.  Commissioner Wright said he “didn’t know they had a loan program [RCRDP loan program].  It was a well-kept secret, and I don’t want the RCRDP to be a secret anymore.”

Chairman Bair thanked him for his service, and then called on the Commission and IASCD to give their annual presentation.

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January/February 2013 eNewsletter

We just put the finishing touches on our latest eNewsletter, and have posted it here for you to read.

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Our November/December 2012 eNewsleter Has Been Posted

We just finished and posted our November/December 2012 eNewsletter.  Please click here to read it!

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West Side SWCD Applies For Conservation Innovation Grant

Today’s Capital Press had a great article on the West Side Soil and Water Conservation District’s effort to obtain a federal grant intended to entice more local growers to plant their fields in fall cover crops.  West Side is seeking $214,000 over three years in Conservation Innovation Grant money for projects that promote water conservation.

From the article:

Rick Passey planted his farm’s first cover crop this fall to provide extra feed on cattle pasture, given the high price of hay. The grant would allow farmers to graze livestock on their cover crops. Passey, who serves as the soil and water conservation district’s chairman, said limited water availability for irrigating cover crops could pose a concern for would-be participants.

Nonetheless, he predicted, “I don’t think we’ll have a problem getting the money spent if we get the money.”

He said other growers will likely apply to prevent wind erosion from fields. Interstate 15 north of Idaho Falls has closed several times in recent years due to blowing dust, he said.

“We’ve been trying to find a solution to that,” Passey said. “The one thing we have to impress on (growers) is once dirt blows away, it’s never coming back.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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