By Natalie Euler
Natural Resource Specialist, Northwest Area Conservation Districts
The South Dakota State Conservation Commission recently approved $30,000 for a new Tree Planting Grant Project for the Northwest Area Conservation Districts. The Perkins County Conservation District will be administering the grant that will serve Corson, Dewey, Harding Perkins, Tri-County and Ziebach County Conservation Districts.
The main objective of the grant is to help farmers and ranchers that do not qualify for federal financial assistance for shelterbelt plantings. Specifically the grant will be used to provide cost share for planting shelterbelts on hay land, pasture, range and cropland that does not meet cropping history or rank well for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), or Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
The grant will provide cost share for site preparation, shrubs and planting, trees and planting, and weed control fabric. The Conservation Districts plan to involve 14 farmers and ranchers over the next two years. The Northwest Area Conservation Districts will provide technical assistance, i.e. field checking for need and feasibility, planning, design, layout and checkout after planting.
The main priority of the Tree Planting Grant Project is to provide protection for livestock. However, additional benefits will be encouraged including improvement of surface water quality, erosion control on cropland, proper grassland management, wildlife habitat creation, energy savings and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. Producers who participate in the program are required to prepare their shelterbelt site the summer and fall before tree planting.
The project will provide significant economic and social benefits to area farmers and ranchers. The sustainability of livestock producers and the grasslands they manage are significantly impacted by the use of shelterbelts to reduce feed costs and calf death losses, improve overall herd health, and implement planned grazing systems on grasslands. Shelterbelts also provide farmers and ranchers economic opportunities through diversification of their operations for recreation uses (aesthetics and wildlife habitat) and through reduced energy use and increased land values.
The Northwest Area Conservation Districts will be responsible for all phases of the project. Shelterbelt planning and maintenance requirements will be based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service Field Office Technical Guide. Farmers and ranchers participating in the project will receive 50 percent cost share for trees, planting, weed control fabric laid and 40% cost share for site preparation based on the State Conservation Commission Cost List. They will also enter into a project agreement requiring maintenance of the shelterbelt.
Farmers and ranchers that would like more information about participating in this program should call their local conservation district: Corson @605-273-4506, Dewey @605-865-3552, Harding @605-375-3216, Perkins @605-244-7160, Tri-County @605-967-2561, Ziebach @605-365-5185 or Natural Resource Specialist Natalie Euler @605-244-5222 Extension 4 or by e-mail at [email protected]