Syracuse, N. Y., July 19, 2011–USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has $1.5 million in conservation funds available for New York landowners in the Lake Champlain Watershed through a Presidential Initiative – America’s Great Outdoors. President Obama stated, “It means helping states, communities and non-profits protect their own resources. And it means figuring out how the federal government can be a better partner in those efforts. And that’s why, last year, we launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.”

The Lake Champlain Watershed contains all or portions of 5 New York counties to include Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Warren, and Washington. Rural landowners, agricultural producers and private forestland owners in the watershed can apply for the conservation funds at their local USDA Service Center, through August 10.

NRCS held a public meeting in Westport on June 16 to collect local recommendations on best uses for the America’s Great Outdoors funding. Partnerships assisting with this conservation effort are NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, National Audubon Society, and the Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York.

The funds will be used to install conservation practices that prevent nutrients and sediments from reaching Lake Champlain or to improve wildlife habitat around the lake. Some activities eligible for funding include grazing management practices, manure storages, barnyard improvements, stream buffers, and wildlife habitat management. Landowners can apply to install any of the eligible conservation practices.

America’s Great Outdoors Initiative has made funding available through two NRCS programs: Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. To sign-up contact your local USDA service center in Plattsburgh, Malone or Greenwich through August 10. For more information on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative visit:



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