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Conservation Corner

NRCS Special EQIP Initiatives

Mon, March 11, 2019

U. S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of Illinois will offer funding for the following Landscape Conservation Initiatives throughout the state: the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). Producers who have agricultural, pasture, or forest land in an established initiative project area can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Using this program, they can implement a range of conservation practices that will improve water quality, decrease soil erosion, and improve wildlife habitat.

To compete for funds in the initiative project areas, producers must complete and submit an application by one of two cutoff dates, April 19 and May 17, 2019.  NRCS encourages producers to apply for EQIP financial assistance at any time throughout the year, as they accept applications on a continuous basis.

Contact your local NRCS field office to obtain more details about a specific initiative and to see if your land or farm is located in one of the project areas. To learn more about NRCS programs and services in Illinois, visit NRCS online at

The following is a list of Initiative projects and the counties/watersheds where 2019 funding is available:

MRBI—Mississippi River Basin Initiative

Clinton Lake – Includes portions of DeWitt, McLean and Piatt Counties
Crow Creek West/Clear Creek – Includes portions of Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, Putnam and Stark Counties
Upper Macoupin Creek – Includes portions of Macoupin County
Vermilion Headwaters – Includes portions of Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and McLean Counties

NWQI - National Water Quality Initiative_

Douglas Creek Watershed – Includes portions of St. Clair County
Crooked Creek-Bon Pas Watershed – Includes portions of Richland, Wabash, Edwards, and Lawrence Counties
Lake Vermilion Watershed – Includes portions of Vermilion County
Lake De Revey Watershed – Includes portions of Vermilion County
Painter Creek Watershed – Includes portions of Vermilion County
Lake Bloomington – Money Creek Watershed – Includes portions of McLean County
Blue Mound – Money Creek Watershed – Includes portions of McLean County





EQIP application deadlines announced

Mon, March 11, 2019

Look to the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for conservation assistance on agricultural and forestland. NRCS has a long history of conservation planning with agricultural producers and forestry managers. We have the technical knowledge to develop a conservation plan for your resource concerns and NRCS has conservation programs to help you implement that plan.

The primary financial assistance program is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forestland producers. To participate, producers can apply for EQIP throughout the year; however, Illinois NRCS has established two application deadlines for April 19, 2019 and May 17, 2019.  NRCS encourages producers to submit applications by one of the deadlines if they are interested in the program.

Hundreds of Illinois producers have successfully used EQIP to address natural resource issues on their farm. Some EQIP activities include installing structures to address gully erosion, improving pastureland diversity using interseeding techniques, and improving soil health by increasing organic matter with cover crops. A special Illinois funding pool also targets monarch butterflies by creating or improving monarch habitat with stands of milkweed and nectar plants.

These conservation practices can be completed through NRCS EQIP funding pools, such as grazing land operations, confined livestock operations, organic, monarch butterfly, and wildlife habitat, just to name a few. In addition to conservation practices, EQIP funds plan development, such as Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs), Grazing Plans, Drainage Water Management Plans, and more.

Producers interested in EQIP should submit a signed application (NRCS-CPA-1200 form) to the local NRCS field office. Applications submitted by April 19, 2019 and May 17, 2019 will be evaluated by NRCS staff for the funding period submitted.

Applicants must meet program eligibility requirements to participate in EQIP. Local NRCS field office staff will work with applicants to determine eligibility and answer ranking questions. If an application is ranked high enough to be funded, NRCS staff will work with each applicant to develop a contract.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available for agricultural producers and forestry producers. Through EQIP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices. For more information on EQIP, contact your local NRCS field office or visit



Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project

Wed, January 23, 2019

USDA launched an initiative a few years ago to provide the precise food, plants, and habitat for Monarch Butterflies. Nationwide the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, will invest millions in this effort. 

Illinois is one of nine states that make up the Monarch’s migration route from central Mexico to Canada.  Illinois lies at the heart of their journey, making efforts here especially important. 

The Problem:

The key habitat and plant species that Monarch Butterflies require for food and reproduction have gradually disappeared from the landscape.  Here in Illinois, our prime soils and prime farmland are covered with crops—- corn, soybeans, and wheat.  But these crops mean nothing if we don’t leave room for special habitat gaps, creating diverse areas for Monarchs and other pollinator species so crucial to Ag production.

If every landowner, every farmer, every city, community, homeowner, school, and business dedicated some part of their land to the effort and planted a native milkweed species, we could create a more diverse landscape.  We can create a landscape where Monarchs can thrive.

The Program:

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project will use funds from NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, EQIP.  With EQIP and NRCS, landowners can access both financial and technical assistance to voluntarily put conservation practices on the ground that support native milkweed plants and other early- to late-blooming nectar plants.  NRCS also has funds available to use on land already in the conservation easement program known as Wetland Reserve Easement or WRE.  These are lands already set aside for wildlife that can be further enhanced to provide for the specific needs of Monarch Butterflies.

  The Conservation Stewardship Program CSP is another federal program that can provide landowners with new options that support the creation of enhancements for Monarch habitat.

To learn more:
If you’d like to know more about the Illinois NRCS Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project or learn about other practices or plant species that can support pollinator habitat, contact your local NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center.

Resources and information are also available online at

Program applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking, and approval of eligible applications.  Right now, is a good time to start planning for Monarch Butterfly Habitat.



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