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Eastern Red Cedar Update - NRCS Nebraska

Nebraska's USDA - Natural Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) State Technical Committee and stakeholders met on August 16, 2019 and made a decision on revisions to NRCS policy on the cost-share for Easter Red Cedar plantings under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) which will be effective October 1, 2019.  These program policy revisions do not make any changes to the practice standard in the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). 
After considerable input from Conservation Partners, Stakeholders through the State Technical Committee process, Academic Advisors, and NRCS Technical Personnel, a decision has been made by the State Conservationist on revisions to NRCS policy on the cost-share for Eastern Redcedar plantings under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).  These program policy revisions do not make any changes to the practice standard in the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). 
 
Here is a summary of the statewide EQIP policy changes for cost-share on Eastern Redcedar to take effect on October 1, 2019:
 
No changes in the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide that unilaterally prevent the use of Eastern Redcedar in any portion of the state where it is deemed suitable to the site and will accomplish the purpose of the conservation practice standard according to the design parameters outlined in associated technical documents. That recommendation has been accepted by the State Conservationist. Easter Red Cedar Policy Decision Nebraska NRCS

No changes to EQIP policy for cost-share on Eastern Redcedar in Vegetative Zone I, essentially the Panhandle portion of the state.  That recommendation has been accepted by the State Conservationist. 

In Vegetative Zones 2-4 – (the rest of the state) it was decided to continue availability for cost-share under EQIP on Eastern Redcedar in windbreaks and tree plantings for very specific site conditions and purposes.  The specific site conditions and installation purposes approved for eastern redcedar plantings in Zones 2-4 are: 
  • To manage snow deposition, reduce energy usage, and provide screening or winter protection for farmsteads.
  • To manage snow deposition to protect public infrastructure (most notably public roadways) in the form of living snow fence in identified problem locations.
  • To provide shelter from winter weather, manage snow deposition and/or address odor control for areas where animals are concentrated including calving areas or in open lots.
  • To help control excessive wind erosion and protect sensitive plants from damage where a higher level of windbreak density is deemed necessary to address the resource concern. 
In Vegetative Zones 2-4, for other windbreak and tree planting purposes that include Eastern redcedar and are not described in the criteria above, EQIP application requests for cost-share under EQIP will be set as a “low priority.”  This recommendation has been accepted by the State Conservationist. 

Two Nebraska Natural Resources Districts, the Twin Platte NRD, and the Upper Loup NRD do not provide cost-share assistance on Eastern Redcedar and NRCS intends to honor and support those locally-made decisions.  In those NRD's, EQIP applications that include Eastern redcedar species in the planting will be a low priority in application ranking. 

The Local Work Groups in Nebraska will continue to set priorities for local resource concerns and their order of importance for funding under EQIP and through the use of the new Conservation Application Ranking Tool (CART).  The CART tool will be new for the Fiscal Year 2020 and NRCS staff will soon get to see a demo version of the tool at upcoming Farm Bill trainings.  NRCS field staff in Nebraska will receive training on the CART tool over the next couple of months for use in ranking and evaluating EQIP applications.

Thank you for your support for voluntary conservation on Nebraska's private agricultural lands. 
More information and background on eastern redcedar encroachments and the decisions made for state-wide revisions to cost-share under the EQIP program for the Fiscal Year 2020. More Info on NRCS-Nebraska

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