The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) announced the award of $8.5 million in new technical assistance grants to over 300 conservation districts in 49 states and territories.
This is the third year of the Technical Assistance Grants program, created with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help increase staffing at the field level to provide conservation services to farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and local communities across the U.S.
“Even in this time of a national emergency, landowners have conservation concerns that need to be addressed,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “We’re proud to provide funding to America’s conservation districts that allows for more boots on the ground, providing support for their individual landscapes and resource concerns.”
These funds will support over 230 full- and part-time individuals, resulting in approximately 175 full-time equivalent staffing. More than $2.3 million of matching funds are to be added to these awards, further increasing the impact of the grants. State conservation partnership leaders have identified high priority locations and workloads to help guide where the funds can best be placed.
The funds announced today will support resource technicians, conservation planners, program support specialists, foresters, cultural resource specialists, agronomists and other specialists based on the local needs and priorities identified by state and territory leaders. All these employees will provide conservation technical assistance to help customers carry out their conservation plans. NACD anticipates more than 10,000 conservation plans; 18,000 conservation practices; and 10,000 contracts will be implemented through this technical assistance announcement.
These grants are programmed for a 13-month period with the opportunity to continue, should funds continue to be available.
NACD will also be releasing a new Request for Proposals in the near future for another $6.5 million in funding, with a response period of 60 days and awards expected to be made this summer.
“As our nation’s private lands continue to provide an abundant supply of foods, goods and services, even in times of crisis, we must also remember to take care of the land,” Palmer said. “By providing additional conservation technical assistance through these awards, NACD and its conservation districts will stand armed and ready to provide local knowledge and decision making for their customers and cooperators, so they can continue to grow and provide the nation’s food, fuel, feed and fiber.”