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Conservation INsight
April 15, 2020
2021 Annual Conference of Indiana SWCDs: Call for Presentations
Due: May 1
Each year, the Indiana SWCD Conference offers a unique learning and training opportunity for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors, Staff, and Conservation Partners. We again anticipate over 350 attendees representing local, state, regional, and national organizations; public agencies, businesses and more. 
Oral presentations are invited to be considered on topics relating to three session tracks: On the Ground (conservation implementation /technical), District Management, and Outreach & Education. Presentation information should be submitted online by May 1.
Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On Monday, April 6, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) posted to the Federal Register a  rule implementing provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act  (FFCRA).
Under FFCRA, employers that have fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide employees with paid leave taken for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees are entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if unable to work because they are subject to federal, state or local quarantine or isolation orders; have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis; are caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or isolation order; are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable; or are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Nominations now being accepted for the 2020 River Friendly Farmer Award - due June 12
The River Friendly Farmer Award recognizes farmers, who through good production management practices, help keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean. Each county Soil and Water Conservation District may nominate up to two farmers who do an outstanding job of protecting their rivers, lakes and streams through their every day conservation management practices on the farm. Watershed organizations also may nominate farmers for the award by submitting an application to a county SWCD. The 2020 River Friendly Farmer Award Ceremony will take place in August at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Visit the IASWCD website for nomination forms and more information.  Deadline to submit nominations and the required signature page: June 12, 2020.
COVID-19 Information for Districts
There is currently a webpage on the IASWCD website dedicated to information on COVID-19 and information pertaining to Indiana Districts. Click on the  "For Districts" page on the home page of the IASWCD website
NACD Announces $8.5 Million in Grants to Conservation Districts
WASHINGTON (March 30, 2020) – Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) announced the award of $8.5 million in new technical assistance grants to over 300 conservation districts in 49 states and territories.
This is the third year of the Technical Assistance Grants program, created with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help increase staffing at the field level to provide conservation services to farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and local communities across the U.S. “Even in this time of a national emergency, landowners have conservation concerns that need to be addressed,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “We’re proud to provide funding to America’s conservation districts that allows for more boots on the ground, providing support for their individual landscapes and resource concerns.”
Fill Out This Short Survey On Tree Planting
NACD is interested in learning about your experiences in carrying out programs during this national emergency. If your conservation district, state or territory association of conservation districts has a tree planting program, we would appreciate you filling out  this short survey .
2020 NCF-Envirothon National Competition Canceled
WASHINGTON (April 2, 2020)  – Today, the National Conservation Foundation (NCF) and the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) announced the cancellation of the 2020 NCF-Envirothon to protect the health and safety of the general public and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The annual event was slated for July 26-Aug. 1, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“This was not an easy decision, but our primary concern is the health and safety of the students, as well as the general public, and we feel it’s in the best interest to cancel the 2020 NCF-Envirothon Nebraska event at this time,”  NCF Chairman Steve Robinson said . “We know that many students look forward to this competition and are truly sorry for this turn of events; however, we hope students stay engaged in the Envirothon mission, and we encourage them to look ahead to preparations for next year.”
NACD Seeks Technical Assistance RFP
Last week, NACD announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for projects that will increase the technical assistance capacity of conservation districts. Now in its third round of funding,  NACD's Technical Assistance Grants program , created with funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will help increase staffing at the field level to provide conservation services to farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and local communities across the U.S. There is a total of $6.5 million in technical assistance (TA) grant funding available.
D.C. Office Closed Until April 24
NACD’s Washington, D.C. office will remain closed with staff teleworking until Friday, April 24 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. NACD wants to ensure the continuity of normal business operations, and you can reach NACD staff during regular business hours as usual via email or by calling the main line: (202) 547-NACD. In the meantime, we will continue to update our members on any changes during this time.
Conservation Planning Boot Camp
Update: May and June Sessions Canceled
Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) concerns, the May and June sessions of the Conservation Planning Boot Camp (CPBC) are canceled. For updates, please visit  NACD's website . Please contact NACD Director of Membership   Kimberly Uldricks  for questions.
Ag, Conservation, Wildlife Groups Unite to Advocate for Conservation Funding Support
WASHINGTON (April 2, 2020) – Today, 76 leading farm, conservation and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress requesting full funding for conservation programs and technical assistance in fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations.
In the  letter , the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), National Farmers Union (NFU), National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and other signatories called upon House and Senate appropriators to maintain discretionary United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation funding and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation programs through the FY21 appropriations process.
Stewardship Week
April 26-May 3
Join us in celebrating the 2020 theme “ Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators? ” by organizing virtual events such as hosting a pollinator webinar or delivering a PowerPoint presentation for your conservation district's poster contest.
NACD Requests Additional Support for Conservation Districts in Next Stimulus
WASHINGTON (April 13, 2020) – Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) sent a letter to Congress requesting additional funding and legislative support for the nation’s nearly 3,000 conservation districts in the next stimulus bills."Conservation districts are the backbone of delivering conservation in America,”  NACD President Tim Palmer said.  “Unfortunately, as with many small businesses, many conservation districts are currently struggling to continue supporting their communities given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”
USDA Service Centers are Open for Business by Phone Appointment Only
Program Delivery Continues while taking Safety Measures Related to Coronavirus
USDA is open for business. Our team is continuing to provide the best customer service we can while also prioritizing the health of our employees, the health of our customers, and the health of our partners. USDA’s Service Centers are open in Indiana by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into to the office, they will be working with our customers by phone, by email, and using other online tools whenever possible.

To learn more about USDA programs and the Department’s response to the Coronavirus visit farmers.gov/coronavirus or www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus .
To locate your local Service Center, visit farmers.gov/service-locator
USDA Seeks Public Comment on More Revised Conservation Practice Standards
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 49 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register. The public comment period closes on April 23, 2020.
The 49 updated national conservation practice standards include:
  •  12 agronomic practices for water quality and erosion control
  • Two aquaculture practices
  • Three forestry practices
  • Six practices affecting waterways
  • Five drainage-related practices
  • Seven livestock-related practices
  • Three energy and air quality practices
  • Eight water conservation practices
  • Three farm traffic-related practices
NRCS Accepting Applications for Targeted Watershed Funding in Indiana
Indiana NRCS is accepting applications until May 11, 2020 to be considered for targeting funding to improve water quality in the Upper Sinking-Blue River watershed located in Washington and Harrison counties through NRCS’ National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). 
Get Data on the Nation’s Conservation Activities with the Updated and Improved RCA Interactive Data Viewer
Ever wanted to know how much assistance USDA provides to farmers getting started with cover crops? Or how much land has been affected by USDA-supported wildlife practice in your state? The Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA) Interactive Data Viewer provides quick access to extensive data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on the nation’s conservation program activities. The Data Viewer was just updated with FY2019 data, and for the first time it includes data on practice enhancements and bundles supported by the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Proposals for New National Water Quality Initiative Projects
NRCS is currently soliciting proposals for new National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) projects. NWQI aims to accelerate conservation through targeted approaches in small watersheds. Projects are funded in two phases, the Planning Phase and the Implementation Phase.  Please contact Jill Reinhart, Assistant State Conservationist for Partnership at jill.reinhart@usda.gov for application materials and watershed assessment criteria. Applications are due to Jill by June 20.
National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) & Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI)
NWQI and MRBI aim to accelerate conservation through targeted approaches in small watersheds. MRBI focuses on the priority watersheds in the state’s Nutrient Management Strategy. NWQI includes a source water/drinking water protection component. Projects are funded in two phases, the Planning Phase and the Implementation Phase. MRBI applications are due to the State Office by June 12 and NWQI applications are due by June 20.
Projects applying for the Planning Phase will need to complete a watershed assessment with priority areas identified within 12-digit hydrologic unit codes (HUCs). An outreach plan to target producers in priority areas is a requirement of the assessment plan.
NWQI projects should be a minimum size of three 12-digit HUCs. The funding limit to create the plan is $50,000 and must be completed within a year. 
Projects applying for the Implementation Phase must have an approved watershed assessment plan which may or may not have been completed as part of an NWQI Planning Phase project. Implementation Phase projects can apply for several years of targeted Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds that address the resource concerns identified in the assessment plan, and provide funding for targeted conservation practices in identified priority areas.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program – Alternative Funding Arrangements
RCPP is a collaborative, partner led approach to conservation where partners bring value-added contributions to expand our ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects with innovative solutions and measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns.
Alternative Funding Arrangement RCPP (RCPP-AFA) projects are different than Classic RCPP. In an RCPP-AFA project the partner runs the entire program including managing producer contacts.  Examples of RCPP-AFA projects may include ‘pay for performance’ or environmental market approaches that don’t fit the traditional ways NRCS can incentivize conservation. NRCS is authorized to fund up to 15 RCPP-AFA projects across the country. Proposals are due May 18. 
Conservation Innovation Grant- On Farm Trials
On-Farm Trials are a collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. Incentive payments are provided to producers to offset the risk of implementing innovative approaches. Incentives often cover the entire cost of the practice.
Purdue Extension News
Free Webinar
Saving Time Using Social Media Strategies
April 21
Covid-19 Information for Farmers
DNR Response to COVID-19
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has adjusted services, events and operations to protect Hoosiers and prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Other News
A monthly e-newsletter
from the North Central Region Water Network
featuring upcoming virtual events and funding opportunities
EPA Seeks Public Comments on Draft Biological Evaluations
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comments on draft biological evaluations (BEs) for carbaryl and methomyl. EPA conducts BEs to determine the impact of pesticides on threatened and endangered species. NACD encourages conservation districts to review the draft BEs. EPA is accepting public comments through  Monday, May 18, 2020 .
Funding Opportunity
Farmer-Led Conservation & Watershed Protection Mini-Grant Program
This mini-grant program will support nongovernmental organizations, state or county government agencies, university Extension professionals, and others who support farmers to expand farmer-led conservation demonstration efforts to all 12 SERA-46/Hypoxia Task Force states, which include Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Qualified organizations must partner with an existing farmer-led organization. Awards will be up to $4000. Online applications will be accepted from February 15, 2020-June 1, 2020.
Healing The Heartland: Rural Mental Health Symposium
September 10
Indiana Woodland Steward Newsletter
American Farmland Trust Launches Fund to Help Farmers Affected by the COVID-19 Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC (March 24, 2020) — Today, American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, announces the creation of a Farmer Relief Fund. All monies raised will go directly to farmers. The fund will award eligible farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The initial focus will be on farms that sell at farmers markets or to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products. That focus could change over time as the negative impacts of the crisis become more widespread within U.S. agriculture.
Pollinator Week T-Shirt Sale
The limited-edition Pollinator Week T-Shirts are here! Show your support for pollinator conservation by celebrating National Pollinator Week this year on June 22-28.
Job Postings  :
Current list of Conservation Job Opportunities now posted on the  IASWCD website.
Note: Job Postings can be submitted to Amy Work at:  amy-work@iaswcd.org .  Please include job description and deadline to apply in a single PDF file or with a link.
Upcoming Conservation Events   :

May 25 - Memorial Day
June 12 - River Friendly Farmer Award Applications due 
August 7-23 - Indiana State Fair
August 19 - River Friendly Farmer Awards Ceremony
October 5-8 - IDEA Fall Conference, Muncie, IN

For a complete list of upcoming conservation events,  go to the Events Calendar on the IASWCD website. *

* Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, events are changing daily. Please check the individual hosting organization's website and/or Facebook page for the latest information on cancellations and reschedule dates. Thank you.