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Conservation Security Watersheds Named

by Patricia R. McCoy
Capital Press, November 12, 2004

Farmers and ranchers across the nation who have long applied good stewardship and followed sound conservation practices to care for their land are at last to be rewarded.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service will hold signups for the Conservation Security Program this winter in 202 watersheds nationwide, representing nearly one-eighth, or about 208,000 of the nation’s potentially eligible farms and ranches.

The selected watersheds include 15 in Idaho, 10 in Oregon, nine in Washington state, and five in California.

“CSP is different from any other NRCS conservation program. Most push efforts to improve the resource. This program rewards farmers and ranchers for what they already do, especially for fish recovery and habitat issues,” said Sarah Braasch, regional deputy NRCS chief.

Information meetings will be held for producers in each of the chosen watersheds before formal signup begins, she said.

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman announced the coming signup and names of the chosen watersheds early to give producers time to look at the program and gather the written records they will need to qualify, Braasch said.

“We’re reaching out to the watersheds chosen for 2005, of course, but we also want to reach other parts of the state so producers will be ready to participate when their watersheds are selected in 2006 and 2007. To qualify, farmers and ranchers need to have written documentation showing they’ve had the appropriate conservation practices in place for at least two years,” said Richard Sims, Idaho state conservationist.

Funds allocated to CSP are part of the $1.6 billion in mandatory funding for conservation programs announced in late October by Veneman.

The 15 watersheds designated for the program in Idaho are the Lower Kootenai, Middle and South Forks of the Clearwater River, the Lower Salmon, Lochsa, Lower and Upper Selway, the Middle Salmon-Chamberlain, the Little Salmon, the North Fork of the Payette, C-J Strike Reservoir, the Upper and Lower Henrys, and Little Bear-Logan. Over 2,100 farms and ranches within those watersheds, covering some 1.3 million acres, may be eligible for CSP.

The 10 Oregon watersheds are Yamhill, Middle Columbia-Hood, Lower Grand Ronde, Coquille, Willow, Sixes, Lower Willamette, Illinois, Hells Canyon, and Warner Lakes. They include some 4,800 potentially eligible farms and ranches, covering more than 1.8 million acres.

Washington’s nine watersheds are the Lower Skagit, Banks Lake, Upper Columbia-Entiat, Upper Crab, Rock, Willapa Bay, Nisqually, Dungeness-Elwha and Colville. They include some 4,200 farms and ranches covering over 2.2 million acres.

In California, the five chosen watersheds are the Lower Sacramento, Sacramento-Stone Corral, Lower Butte, Estrella, and the Lower Cosumnes-Lower Moke. Over 6,700 farms and ranches within those watersheds cover some 2.4 million acres.

Acreage figures do not include land set aside for the Conservation Reserve Program, NRCS spokesmen said.

Patricia R. McCoy, Idaho Staff Writer
Conservation Security Watersheds Named
Capital Press, November 12, 2004

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