$1.5 Million Available to Landowners to Fight Invasive Weeds
July 10, 2009 Several Nebraska organizations are joining forces to battle invasive plants along many of the river corridors in the western two-thirds of Nebraska.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering $1.5 million in cost share assistance to landowners who recently had or soon will have riparian corridors sprayed for invasive weed control. Landowners in five targeted river basins will have until July 24 to apply for the first contract awards. Funds are coming through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).
Landowners in the North and South Platte River basin, the Platte River basin to the eastern Polk County line, all of the Republican River basin and the Niobrara River basin are eligible. These basins have been declared as fully or over appropriated basins for surface and/or groundwater.
“We are partnering with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and seven Weed Management Areas to enhance weed control actions,” said Steve Chick, NRCS state conservationist.
The NDA has been leading the effort to control noxious weeds along many river corridors.“Most of the effort has been in aerial spraying the existing weeds, which has been very successful. These new funds can be used by landowners to undertake additional actions to try and keep the weeds from returning,” explained Chick.
The funds are coming to the state as a new option in the 2008 Farm Bill called the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). This initiative allows Federal funds for individual landowners to be leveraged with partner agencies, organizations or tribes to address natural resource concerns. The $1.5 million is for this year, but similar amounts are projected to be available each of the next two years of the three-year project. In future years, there will be a continuous sign-up available to landowners and producers.
“Since 2007 almost $4 million in state funding through Legislative Bill 701 has been used to treat invasive plants in several river basins,” said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Some local weed management areas received additional funding through the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Removing invasive vegetation in and near riparian areas in fully or over-appropriated river basins helps with stream flow, water management, and water conservation, adds recreational options, and improves the value of the land for agriculture or forestry, Ibach said.
The following three invasive plants are among those being targeted:
- phragmites, a grass that can grow 15-feet tall in river channels taking water and choking out native plants (phragmites are highly visible in river channels along I-80 west of Grand Island to the state border);
- saltcedar, a perennial tree or shrub that spreads easily and when mature is estimated to absorb 200 gallons of water per day;
- Russian olive, an invasive tree that displaces native species.
Other noxious weeds being targeted include:
- purple loosestrife
- leafy spurge
- Canada thistle
For more information about this program and the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), contact any Nebraska NRCS office or county weed commissioner. Information is also available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Web site.
Additional information on the 2008 Farm Bill programs including EQIP, WHIP, and CSP is available on the U.S. NRCS Web site or the Nebraska NRCS Web site .