USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Salvador Salinas has announced the winning Texas proposals for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG).

Through CIG, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues. More than $1.2 million of that has been awarded to conservation efforts in Texas.

The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, in partnership with the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation and Texas Tech University, will receive $499,848 for their Texas High Plains Initiative for Strategic and Innovative Irrigation Management and Conservation to demonstrate strategic irrigation and crop system management technologies and practices which will result not only in water savings across the region but also best practices that are applicable nationwide to regions facing similar resource concerns. Their primary objective is to quantify water savings that can be realized from strategic irrigation management.

SureHarvest will receive $761,820 for their Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops initiative to develop a system for measuring sustainable performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain, with stake holders in 22 states, including Texas. With the funding, they will continue an unprecedented collaboration amongst the nation’s most influential grower organizations, NGOs and buyers of specialty crop products.

“These two entities have provided leadership in advancing agriculture and water conservation efforts in Texas,” said Salinas. “We are excited for the opportunity to provide this grant money to advance their innovations. Their dedication to the sustainability of our natural resources for clean water, food and fiber, or their way of life, will benefit all Texans.”

Grant winners pay 50 percent of project costs. The NRCS administers CIG as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals. NRCS uses CIG to invest in innovative, on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches with the goal of wide-scale adoption to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and environmental markets, among other natural resource issues. 

For a summary of all proposals selected for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants or for more information about NRCS conservation programs online, visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov or visit the nearest USDA Service Center in your area.

deeann.littlefield@tx.usda.gov