Michelle Lohstroh, Acting State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), announced that more than $1.5 million is available to Ohio agricultural producers and landowners to improve and protect the waters and resources in portions of the Great Lakes Basin. Applications to install specific conservation practices through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will be accepted for priority ranking through August 9, 2013.
Interested landowners should contact their local USDA office before August 9, 2013, to apply.  Funding provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) will be directed at accelerating conservation activities to address water quality and invasive species in specific watersheds in Ohio. The following are the priority watersheds in Ohio: Auglaize, Blanchard, Cedar-Portage, Lower Maumee, Ottawa-Stony, Raisin, Sandusky, St. Joseph, St. Marys, Tiffin, and Upper Maumee (see map of area below). NRCS specialists will provide farmers and ranchers with technical assistance to help determine the best conservation practices to improve and protect the resources on their land. 
“The GLRI is a multi-agency collaboration with the shared mission to improve and protect the waters of the Great Lakes Basin,” said Lohstroh. “NRCS is working with farmers and landowners on private lands who are doing their part to improve the resources.”
This year, GLRI focuses on practices that have the highest benefit for reducing water quality degradation due to agricultural runoff.  Examples of these practices include waste storage facilities, residue management, no-till, nutrient management, tree planting, wetland creation, and drainage water management, among others.
“I commend the farmers who take the initiative and come to us for help. They deserve the credit for taking action to help protect resources in their watersheds,” said Lohstroh.  “We provide them with information on the scientifically-proven practices and where best to use them, as well as funding to help pay for them, but it’s their land and they make the decisions.”
Since 1935, NRCS’ nationwide conservation delivery system works with private landowners to put conservation on the ground based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating State and national interests. To learn more about NRCS’ programs and how they can benefit you and your natural resources, visit us on the web at: www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov.