Conservation agency seeks local input at meeting

CAMERON, TEXAS—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Central Texas, Taylor, and Little River–San Gabriel Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and the Local Working Group invite the public to their annual Conservation stakeholder’s meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at the Bell County Annex Building, Belton USDA Service Center located at 1605 N. Main St. in Belton.

Each year, the Local Working Group hosts a public meeting to determine the resource concerns and needs of the area and how to best address those needs. The NRCS and their local conservation partner, the Central Texas, Taylor and Little River– San Gabriel SWCDs, provide agriculture producers with professional consultation and financial assistance through Farm Bill conservation programs to apply conservation practices on their land that address soil erosion and health, water quality and quantity issues, as well as wildlife habitat.

The Local Working Group includes community agricultural producers, owners/operators of nonindustrial private forest land, professionals representing agricultural and natural resource interests and individuals representing a variety of disciplines in the soil, water, wetland, plant, forestry and wildlife sciences who are familiar with agricultural and natural resource issues.

All landowners and land managers in Milam County are encouraged to attend and participate in this meeting. This open discussion public meeting will focus on identifying area natural resource concerns that can be addressed using conservation programs and activities.

“Effective conservation stems from a locally led process,” Todnechia Mitchell, NRCS District Conservationist for Milam County said. “The Milam County NRCS office operates on the concept that local residents’ best understand local issues and are the key to solving problems.

“Our Conservation Stakeholders Meeting gives everyone the opportunity to decide how the assistance from the NRCS and Farm Bill funds can be most beneficial for our community.”

Through the Central Texas, Taylor, and Little River–San Gabriel SWCDs, the Local Working Group will provide recommendations to the NRCS District Conservationist on local natural resource priorities and criteria for conservation activities and programs planning for the upcoming fiscal year. These issues will be especially important in decisions made for financial assistance when implementing the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

This program is administered by the NRCS and provides incentive payments for the installation of several conservation practices on eligible participant’s land. The information gathered from these meetings will be used to help carry out the EQIP and other programs in 2013.

While the NRCS brings the technical expertise and Farm Bill funding to the table, the goods and services are delivered through the local SWCD board. SWCDs are local units of government made up of five members elected by the public. Their office is usually co-located with the NRCS office. Members of SWCD Boards are actively engaged in farming and ranching.

For more information, including eligibility requirements, contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center Cameron, 254-697-4949, ext. 3. Service Center locations, meeting dates and program information can be found at www.tx.nrcs.usda. gov.

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