Feds Award Millions for Environmental Projects

June 22, 2011

The US Dept. of Agriculture and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have recently awarded millions of dollars in grants to recipients selected through competitive processes, as part of ongoing programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve at-risk species, and take other steps to protect the environment. There is local news in these grants. These are on-the-ground projects involving specific groups and individuals, offering prime examples of programs you can investigate to see whether federal tax dollars are being effectively and efficiently spent.

On June 8, 2011, USDA announced it gave about $7.4 million dollars to 9 projects in 24 states. The money, funneled through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Innovation Grants program, is designed to support pilot projects that demonstrate ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, potentially establishing prototypes others can follow. The recipients have some skin in the game since they are providing matching funds or in-kind services.

The winning projects address emissions from beef, dairy, and rice-growing operations; use of forests, grasslands, and soils as carbon sinks; and reductions of nitrous oxide emissions in various agricultural settings.

The recipients represent a diverse range of interests, including environmental groups (Environmental Defense Fund, Ducks Unlimited, Chesapeake Bay Foundation), industry (Fertilizer Institute, Dairy Science Institute), a tribe (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation), and several others.

A day earlier, USDA announced it awarded $7 million to 31 other projects in 11 states. This grant money comes from the agency's Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, and is designed to improve the environment involved with and affected by various agricultural operations.

The winning projects are in AZ, CA, CO, ID, IN, MD, MO, NY, OR, VA, and WA. The recipients are state agencies, tribes, mixed-partner organizations, and soil, water, or resource conservation districts. Farmers, ranchers, and private landowners in the designated areas who want to use this money will apply to each entity, so evaluating the ability of the organization to communicate the availability of the money to prospective recipients can be part of your coverage.

Among the diverse issues the money is intended to address are pesticide runoff, sedimentation, irrigation efficiency, use of cover crops, wildlife protection, vegetation restoration, management of grazing lands, and invasive species.

  • Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI); Fiscal Year 2011 CCPI Project Information, National CCPI Selected Projects (includes the state, name of the grant winner and the project, and dollars awarded; if you have trouble finding the right contact person at each organization, try the county NRCS office, which you can find here, or the state office; June 7, 2011, press release.

On June 3, 2011, US-FWS identified six state agencies that will split $4.9 million in federal money (matched by $2.9 million put up by the recipients) to protect hundreds of at-risk wildlife species. The projects will directly affect 20 other states. The money comes from the State Wildlife Grants Competitive Program.

The projects will involve longleaf forest restoration, prairie/savanna restoration, mussel conservation, rabbit conservation, turtle conservation, and white nose syndrome in bats.

If you have trouble finding the right contact person at each of the state agencies below, get in touch with US FWS spokeswoman Kim Betton, 703-358-2081.