To better distribute federal dollars, Nebraska conservation folks have identified eight "primary resource concerns" in the state.
"The goal is to align our budget with these eight priorities," says Craig Derickson, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The eight concerns are:
- Soil erosion—sheet and rill, ephemeral, wind, organic matter depletion in crops.
- Irrigation—inefficient use of irrigation water for crops.
- Excess nutrients in surface and groundwater from cropland.
- Undesirable plant productivity and plant health.
- Excess pathogens/chemicals from manure, biosolids or compost.
- Excess plant pest pressure, such as insects and invasive plants, in pasture, rangeland and forest areas.
- Habitat degradation in crops, rangeland and pastures.
- Inadequate livestock shelter, such as field and farmstead windbreaks rangeland areas.
The list represents the majority of concerns in Nebraska, according to Brad Soncksen, assistant NRCS director for programs in Nebraska. NRCS will use input from natural resources districts and other local leaders to determine the ranking of the concerns in individual NRDs.
Derickson says the NRCS in Nebraska, beginning in 2013, will distribute the payment program funds it receives based on the concerns in the list.
The listing stems from a revised state funding allocation process outlined by Dave White, chief of the NRCS in Washington, D.C. "In the past, we waited for funds to be allocated via a "wait-and-see" approach," Derickson says. "Our chief (White) has turned that around to a process that is more fitting for a planning agency. NRCS will use a new budget allocation process that is based, in part, on our state resource assessment. The goal is to better align NRCS program resources with actual needs and opportunities in the field offices to address state-identified priority resource concerns."
Nebraska was ahead of the curve in coming up with its top concerns. "We were fortunate to have already completed the Nebraska Resources Assessment that listed the state's resource concerns," Derickson says.