Idaho Landowners Eligible
by Eric Barker
State was not put on original list
Private landowners in Idaho will be allowed to compete against landowners in other states for grants that help improve salmon habitat.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service has added Idaho to a list of states where landowners are eligible to apply for salmon money under the federal Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, known as WHIP.
The Department of Agriculture announced last week that landowners in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Maine could apply for cost-share grants to improve salmon habitat and a total of $3.5 million would be available.
But Idaho was not included on the list of states eligible to participate in the program. Shortly after the program was announced, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and his staff contacted Bruce Knight, director of the Natural Resource Conservation Service at Washington, D.C., to ask why Idaho was not on the list of eligible states.
Crapo said he was told that Idaho was left off the list because of a simple oversight. He also said he would use his influence to make sure the oversight was corrected.
The senator said he was interested in seeing the error corrected quickly before the other salmon states became accustomed to the money and their members of Congress became territorial over the funds. Crapo and his congressional colleagues from Idaho worked for three years to get the state added to the Pacific Salmon Recovery Fund -- another salmon recovery program.
The WHIP money can be used for projects such as the restoration of streamside vegetation, water conservation and in-stream habitat improvements. The program pays for up to 75 percent of the cost of approved projects. Landowners must pitch in the other 25 percent or get the remaining costs covered by other programs.
"These funds, in conjunction with the work of other conservation partners, will provide a direct benefit to salmon and steelhead habitat," said Richard Simms, director of the Natural Resource Conservation Service for Idaho at Boise in a press release.
Applications for the grants are due June 11. Officials at the Natural Resource Conservation Service advise landowners to work with officials at their local Department of Agriculture Service Centers on the technical aspects of the applications.
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