by Molly Pierson,
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assists landowners in protecting, conserving and enhancing natural resources. Energy has recently become a part of that focus. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS can now assist in developing energy Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). Energy CAPs are designed to evaluate current on-farm energy usage and offer ways to reduce both energy use and associated costs. NRCS can also help with the installation of pan pre-heaters and reverse osmosis (RO) systems for maple sugaring. ROs save time and energy by removing access water from the sap. Greg and Jessica Jellison of Bath, NH are excited to set their new RO into action. “It is going to save us a ton in time alone.” said Greg, “We are glad we had the NRCS’s help.”
Just recently, NRCS has announced that New Hampshire no longer requires that an energy CAP be developed prior to installing an RO system. However, this requirement still applies for Vermont sugar makers working with their respective United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offices. When discussing this new change in policy Beth Ann Finlay, Grafton Country NH District Conservationist, expresses the importance of a CAP even if they’re no longer required by NRCS-NH. “We still encourage folks to apply for an energy CAP if they want to look at the operation more holistically from an energy perspective, however if they know that an RO is all they need to address their energy concerns we are glad to take an application for that practice which may pay as much as 75% of the cost.”
The NRCS has many other programs to offer that can be very beneficial to the environment and the wildlife that lives within it. From wildlife, forestry, soil, and agriculture to water and air quality, NRCS works to address resource concerns. By engaging landowners in conservation efforts on their property, the NRCS is following its motto of “Helping people help the land.” If you feel that the NRCS could benefit your property, contact your nearest local USDA-NRCS office.NRCS is an equal opportunity employer and provider.