Highlights from the first year of the Palouse Watershed RCPP include EQIP awards to 13 producers for 5,620 direct seed acres, installation of over 41 acres of riparian buffers, and other conservation practices. Contributions from partners also resulted in 7,500 acres of direct seeding, installation of more than 150 acres of riparian buffers, 22 acres of conservation easement that will permanently protect an endangered Palouse Prairie remnant, support for precision agriculture to reduce fertilizer and chemical applications, implementing an alternative livestock grazing and cover cropping project, and developing the framework for water quality monitoring studies of Thorn and Kamiache Creeks. The Partnership also helped launch the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association’s Farmed Smart sustainable agriculture certification program, a value-added marketing opportunity for farming operations that meet a set of conservation standards. The 14 producers who were Farmed Smart certified this year are utilizing direct seed and precision agriculture practices to protect water and air quality, and improve soil health and wildlife habitat. Their farms encompass 48,000 acres of cropland and 20 miles of protected streams.
RCPP serves landowners and operators living in the Palouse Watershed, located in parts of Whitman, Adams, Lincoln, and Spokane Counties in Washington, and parts of Latah County in Idaho. Eligible applicants will work with RCPP staff over the fall and winter to develop conservation plans that can be used to apply for federal and partner-assisted financial assistance programs. Local landowner Linda Jovanovich expressed appreciation for working with her local planners, saying, “The grants offered through the conservation district enabled me to have help with the labor. It was very simple paperwork. The great thing for me was they come out here, they’re on site. They come and walk your property and give you an idea of what can be done. They do everything possible to let us know of all the projects out there available, and to make it so it’s not me, all by myself, trying to reach these goals. It’s been invaluable to me.”
Applications are due September 30th, and ranking of applications will begin October 1, 2016. Funds and support are provided by 18 Partners, including the NRCS as authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill, the Washington State Conservation Commission and the Washington State Legislature, eight Conservation Districts, Washington State University, University of Idaho, Washington Department of Ecology, Palouse Land Trust, Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Palouse Conservation District serves as the lead partner for the Partnership. Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Derek Sandison says, “Having spent some time with the Palouse Conservation District learning about the work they have been doing through their RCPP project, it was great to see the collaboration between public-private organizations. These partnerships are vital to the continued effort of protecting the state’s agricultural industry and conserving our natural resources.”
To apply for assistance by September 30, 2016 or to learn more, visit your local Conservation District or NRCS office, the Palouse Conservation District (palousecd.org; 509-332-4101), the Palouse Land Trust (palouselandtrust.org), or the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (directseed.org), or apply online at http://www.palousecd.org/#!rcpp-information/c1d4e