The Anderson Creek wildfire burned 273,000 acres in Barber County and over 400,000 acres spread out across the Oklahoma and Kansas border. After doing an assessment of the damage, the Barber County conservation district sought assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
In response to this request, Kansas NRCS created a special Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) initiative with $2.0 million in financial assistance funded over a four-year period for those impacted by the wildfire. An annual allocation of $500,000 is budgeted beginning fiscal year 2017 and ending in fiscal year 2020.
In the area affected by the wildfire, NRCS offices are now taking EQIP applications until the March 17, 2017 cut-off date. Applications received after this date will be considered for funding for the next application evaluation cut-off period. If the entire $500,000 is not allocated after the March cut-off, Kansas NRCS will issue a second cut-off date for early summer.
Monty Breneman, Kansas NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, said, “We’ve allocated $500,000 for each year for four years. If demand for assistance exceeds the initial allocation, our state conservationist will request additional funding.”
Based on the county conservation district’s analysis of resource concerns identified in the wildfire’s footprint, financial assistance is targeted towards the following conservation practices: prescribed grazing, woody residue treatment, brush management, firebreaks, herbaceous weed control, and prescribed burning. Payment rate for these practices is based on 75% of the average cost of practice installation and 90% of the average cost of practice installation for historically underserved applicants.
Eric Banks, Kansas State Conservationist, expressed appreciation for the teamwork, “This special Kansas NRCS EQIP initiative complements other financial assistance such as that provided by The Nature Conservancy Regional Conservation Partnership Agreement (RCPP). One of the things I love about Kansas is how people come together to solve a problem. This wild fire was devastating. Now you have state and federal government, county district officials, and partners coming together providing technical and financial assistance to people hurt by this fire. I’m so fortunate to work with such “can do” people.”
For more information, go to the Kansas NRCS Web site www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs or visit your local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center. To find a service center near you, check on the Internet at offices.usda.gov. Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas.