AUSTIN, Texas – Hill Country Conservancy (HCC), the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network and 18 partner organizations today announced Applications of Eligibility are now being accepted from farmers, ranchers and wildlife managers to take part in the $5.15 million pledge awarded by the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in July 2018.
The funds are being offered as Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds as land stewardship financial assistance for qualified landowners actively managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities on private land within critical river basins throughout the Hill Country.
Last Fall, HCC and its partners, including a then-newly launched Texas Hill Country Conservation Network, banded together to create the Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative (HCHCI), which is focused on the long-term conservation of sensitive land through partnerships with Hill Country landowners.
HCHCI is financed and made possible by the $5.15 million award from RCPP, which is part of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Now, the 20 partners are taking the first step in distributing this award to landowners who wish to carry out conservation practices to enhance water resources, soil condition and wildlife habitat.
“Private landowners throughout the Texas Hill Country are caring daily for our precious natural resources, growing our food and keeping our land beautiful, often without recognition or compensation for their work,” said Frank Davis, Chief Conservation Officer for Hill Country Conservancy. “These projects will support long-term agricultural viability and healthy native wildlife habitat while ensuring the conservation of natural resources on private lands, which provide drinking water and innumerable other benefits for millions of Central Texans.”
The Network and its partners have pledged to help landowners with projects addressing short- term and long-term conservation of water quality, native wildlife habitat, and drought and flood management through the NRCS funding.
Roughly 48 percent will be allocated to the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), 39 percent will go to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and 13 percent will go to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
The Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative is accepting Applications of Eligibility now through May 21, 2019, at 12:59 PM. The application form can be found online at hillcountryconservancy.org/hchi/. To be considered for this financial award, landowners must take this first step in the application process by the specified deadline.
Qualified applicants will be notified of their advancement and receive information about next steps by June 3, 2019. The final selection will be based on a ranking process developed in a collaborative effort between HCHCI partners and NRCS.
HCHCI funds will be directed towards key land stewardship projects within the following river basins: Upper San Marcos River, Blanco River, Onion Creek, Barton Creek, Pedernales River, Sandy Creek and Llano River (shown on this map). All interested and qualified parties are encouraged to apply.