Texas NRCS is accepting applications for special rice conservation program

stilts in texas rice

Texas rice fields, such as the one in Chambers County pictured here, provide habitat to myriad of migratory waterfowl — photo courtesy Natural Resources Conservation Service

Rice producers who want to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for a special Conservation Stewardship Program.

Led by the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership, the Gulf Coast Water and Wetlands Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and the Lower Colorado River Authority, the special stewardship program offers an opportunity to enhance conservation on rice lands in 12 Texas counties. Applications for RCPP-CSP are accepted on a continuous basis, but applications must be received by June 28 to be considered for this funding period, according to a news release.

The special sign-ups assist landowners and rice producers who voluntarily implement conservation and management practices that provide waterfowl habitat on rice production lands. Nutrient management and integrated pest management to address water quality concerns are also a priority. Although enhancements are limited, irrigation efficiencies are also a focus.

“(The Natural Resources Conservation Service) is pleased to partner with USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited and others in these RCPP efforts,” says State Conservationist Salvador Salinas. “RCPP-CSP provides an opportunity for rice producers to build their businesses while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their operations and improve the environment for Texas’ citizens.”

These special stewardship sign-ups are targeted for rice production acreage in Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Jackson, Jefferson, Lavaca, Liberty, Matagorda, Waller and Wharton counties. The projects will provide a special conservation stewardship program allotment of about 110,000 acres in 2019 to Texas rice growers — 80,000 acres under Gulf Coast Water and Wildlife RCPP and 30,000 acres under the LCRA RCPP, respectively.

“NRCS has updated the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources,” said Rice Stewardship Coordinator Kyle Soileau. “Partnership staff can help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.”

For additional information producers interested in the conservation stewardship program or other conservation planning, technical and financial assistance can contact their local U.S. Department of Agriculture service center or visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.