NRCS delivers emergency conservation assistance, healthier natural resources in ’20
In 2020, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) continued its tradition of working in partnership with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in the Caribbean area — Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — despite hardships from earthquakes to COVID-19 to tropical storms.
“Our data and science-based surveys of our work show that we and our partners brought a healthier resource base, used taxpayers’ dollars wisely, made people safer, and brought more-efficient customer service to our customers and communities in 2020, despite the challenges we faced,” said Luis Cruz-Arroyo, NRCS State Conservationist for Puerto Rico and the USVI.
In 2020, NRCS Caribbean Area paid out more than $5.8 million to apply 1,413 conservation practices on more than 18,400 acres in Puerto Rico and the USVI through the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through targeted conservation of some of the islands’ most-valuable resources, NRCS and partners helped farmers apply practices to:
- Improve water quality on more than 13,000 acres;
- Improve soil quality and health on more than 6,500 acres;
- Improve more than 10,000 acres of grazing land; and,
- Deliver more than 5,500 trees to Puerto Rico farmers through the Shade Coffee Initiative and Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative.
Through NRCS’ EQIP equitable relief assistance, three emergency recovery practices were implemented post-hurricanes Irma and María: obstruction removal, roofs and covers, and clearing and snagging (of debris in waterways).
In FY 2020, NRCS Caribbean Area continued to reimburse farmers for implementing the recovery practices contracted in Fiscal 2018 and Fiscal 2019. In Fiscal 2020, NRCS paid more than $3.7 million for Fiscal 2019-contracted emergency practices, and more than $17 million for Fiscal 2018-contracted emergency practices.
For more information NRCS Caribbean Area programs and activities, visit www.pr.nrcs.usda.gov.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is sponsored by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Caribbean Area.]