AMHERST, Mass.--Christine Clarke, Massachusetts state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced nearly $217,000 in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) for three projects that will stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and other natural resource issues.
NRCS administers CIG as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, nongovernmental organizations and individuals. Grant recipients pay 50 percent of all project costs. The following Massachusetts projects were selected for 2012 CIG grants:
The Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc. in Amherst will receive $74,769 to support the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program's effort to reduce farms' dependence on energy and minimize greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. BPRC&D will expand on its current statewide comprehensive farm energy audit and implementation program and focus on innovative energy conservation practices not yet supported through EQIP. This will be achieved through in-depth trialing, on-farm demonstration and documentation.
The UMass Cranberry Experiment Station in Wareham will receive $74,025 to demonstrate the efficacy of automated irrigation cycling for cranberry frost protection and to develop best management practices. The goal is to increase the use of automated irrigation cycling in cranberry frost protection, which has the potential to decrease water use, fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The town of Wellfleet will receive $68,205 for a demonstration project designed to increase wild aquaculture productivity and measure water quality improvements in Wellfleet Harbor. Oyster propagation and salt marsh restoration will increase the sustainability and volume of commercial oyster harvest, as well as naturally disease-resistant spawning stock. The project will also demonstrate low-cost water quality improvements and the application of new side scan sonar technology for population assessment.
"These Conservation Innovation Grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving in the commonwealth's farms and water resources," said Clarke. "Nationally, CIG grants allow the best minds in America to develop unique and innovative solutions that will help make conservation more efficient in the future."