In 2017, NACD entered into the first of a series of cooperative agreements with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide funding to further enhance conservation district technical assistance across the nation. The agreement specified that funds would be awarded to conservation districts to hire staff where additional capacity is needed to improve customer service and reduce workload pressure. The priorities were established from national workload databases and the decisions of the state/territory conservation partnership leaders.
The 2017-2018 technical assistance cooperative agreement of $10 million included:
- $7,200,000 allocated as grants to hire local district/state agency/state association/RC&D/ tribal employees to assist landowners in implementing Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) implementation contracts
- $1,800,000 allocated as grants to agencies to expand capacity to provide conservation planning assistance (COTA)
- Nearly 10 percent or $1 million of these funds would be used by NACD to manage the project over the three-year period of the agreement.
- The requirement for match of 25 percent, of which NACD would provide the first 5 percent. Grant recipients would supply the remaining 20 percent.
- There were two additional deliverables included for a total of $175,000, one to develop a web application and one to develop a state pilot leadership program.
To ensure the funds were directed to areas where they would have the highest impact, NACD worked with state and territory conservation partnerships to identify the highest priority locations. Those locations were identified based on immediate conservation needs, EQIP workload and staffing requirements given those workloads.
The agreement’s priority was to get funds in the hands of conservation districts so they could hire employees to help carry out the objectives. Nationally, nearly 150 full-time and 90 part-time staff positions were created using the funds. Some positions were filled by contractors and some covered multiple districts.
View the map below to learn about the 2018 TA Grantees.