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Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what's driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact NACD Communications Manager Sara Kangas.
NACD Blog: 2018 Farm Bill Breakdown: EQIP
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is one of the bedrock conservation programs responsible for introducing many farmers, ranchers and forest-land owners to conservation. As such, it was a priority for NACD to ensure EQIP continues to receive a robust investment in the 2018 Farm Bill. This blog features an in-depth breakdown of what this funding means and what policy reforms were included in the 2018 Farm Bill.
NACD Blog: 2018 Farm Bill Breakdown: RCPP
The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to RCPP. Many of these reforms will help districts continue their impressive use of the program; leverage even more non-federal funding for conservation; and strengthen stewardship of our natural resources.
The Hill: House passes bills to fund Transportation Dept., HUD, Agriculture
The chamber voted 243-183 to pass a measure to fund the Department of Agriculture and related agencies through Sept. 30, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats to vote for the measure.
Agri-Pulse: Trump nominates Wheeler to head EPA
President Donald Trump has nominated Andrew Wheeler to be the administrator of the EPA, offering him a chance to lose the acting title and lead the agency officially. Wheeler has been leading the agency on an acting basis since July.
KTAR News: Officials hopeful ‘fire funding fix’ helps tame brutal wildfire seasons
After years of wrangling, Congress last year passed the “fire funding fix,” which will take effect later this year. The fix, included as part of an omnibus budget bill approved in March, creates a $2.25 billion emergency fund that federal officials can tap when the cost of fighting wildfires exceeds the budget, as it has done regularly for years now.
While much has been written on the economic aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill, the legislation included a number of items of special interest to no-tillers. Probably the most important one is new language specifically defining the rules for cover crop termination. Passed in mid-December, the farm bill offers new opportunities for no-till, strip-till, soil health, carbon sequestration and their impact on climate change.
Emergence: Cover Crops Now Do What Weeds Used To
Weeds can often grow faster than our desired crop plants by design. They contribute carbon to the soil at a rapid pace compared to many cash crops, and weeds have diversity in their structure above and below the soil surface.
App.: Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California
The number of monarch butterflies turning up at California's overwintering sites has dropped by about 86 percent compared with only a year ago. Experts believe the decline is spurred by a confluence of unfortunate factors, including late rainy-season storms across California last March, the effects of the state’s yearslong drought and the seemingly relentless onslaught of wildfires that have burned acres upon acres of habitat and at times choked the air with toxic smoke.
NBC News: After the fire: Blazes pose hidden threat to the West's drinking water
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, there is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West — and a lesser known risk to the region's already endangered water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.
U.S. Ag Net: Letting Nature Do Its Work
The floating island concept--also called Floating Treatment Wetlands (FTWs)--revolves around a buoyant matrix structure made of recycled plastic and covered by various native wetland plants. They gather algae and microbes and "absorb a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen," thereby helping clean the water around them. The microbes hosted by the roots also provide a food source for aquatic wildlife.
Pennsylvania Ag Connection: Beech Trees are Dying, and Nobody's Sure Why
Researchers and naturalists from The Ohio State University and metroparks in northeastern Ohio report on the emerging "beech leaf disease" epidemic, calling for speedy work to find a culprit so that work can begin to stop its spread. It's characterized by dark-green "bands" that appear between the veins of the trees' leaves and provide the first hint that the tree is diseased. In later stages, leaves become uniformly darker, shrunken, crinkly and leathery. Affected limbs stop forming buds and, over time, the tree dies. Young trees seem to be particularly vulnerable.
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