practices with the greatest potential for improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

“The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and the Obama Administration is dedicated to protecting and restoring this treasured natural resource,” Vilsack says. “This funding is part of the historic investment that USDA is making in Bay watershed restoration-- well over $200 million in 2011.”

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is making available up to $3.5 million in financial assistance in Fiscal Year 2011for single state- and multi-state partnership projects that address natural resource concerns within six Chesapeake Bay Watershed states-Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The financial assistance is available through NRCS’ Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative.

Under CCPI, NRCS enters into agreements of up to five years with eligible partners interested in enhancing conservation on agricultural and non-industrial private forest lands. Applications will be accepted until Jan. 31 from state and local units of government, American Indian tribes, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, institutions of higher education and nongovernmental organizations with a history of working closely with landowners and operators.

Project proposals in the Susquehanna, Shenandoah, Potomac (North and South) and Patuxent watersheds will be given higher priority in the proposal-ranking process. Higher priority also will be given to proposals that control erosion and reduce nutrients and sediments in designated 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Coordinate (12-digit HUC) priority watersheds.

Information on the 12-digit HUC priority watersheds can be obtained through the six NRCS State offices within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Project proposals that offer new approaches to working with socially disadvantaged, beginning or limited resource landowners, and American Indian tribes can also gain higher priority in the proposal ranking process.

Individual landowners and operators cannot submit a proposal. An agricultural producer or a non-industrial private forest landowner's land must be located within an approved CCPI partnership project area to be considered for financial assistance through the initiative.

More information about this request for project proposals, including how to submit proposals, can be found here.

Source: USDA