Did you know you there is a really good chance you can get LOADS of money for FREE?
Did you know that you can get cost-share dollars for some or all of your various Iowa wildlife projects?
That’s right – money for nothin’!
You may already know that cost-share money is available each year to Iowa landowners to various sorts of things.
Projects such as tree plantings, timber stand improvement, wetlands establishments, etc., are all eligible for significant cost-share money paid straight to the landowner. Typical cost-share percentages range from 50-75% of the total cost to establish the approved project.
This can add up to some huge savings in cost, particularly when doing large projects — we are talking thousands of dollars of savings!
What are the cost-share programs in Iowa?
One cost-share program is called REAP.
This is an acronym for Resource Enhancement and Protection Program. REAP is great for funding timber stand improvement projects and tree plantings. Payment rates are very good: up to 75% of the projected project cost. (the district forester must examine the site to determine the suitability of the desired project for the site and provides the landowner a dollar number that the state would pay for the project on a per-acre basis)
Typical REAP requirements the project(s) is to be completed within a year.
Completed projects are then approved by the state district forester or wildlife biologist for the particular region of your land within the state.
A Stewardship Plan for the landowner is typically required and is drafted by the area biologist or forester.
A management plan is also required.
These are typically also drafted by these professionals.
Or, should you decide to hire a private conservation improvement service or a forestry consultant, they may draft a plan for you (so long as their plan is approved by the state forester or biologist. The private consultant or service works in conjunction with the state-employed professionals to ensure the project is completed according to the approved site plan)
All of this may sound sort of confusing, at first, but it’s really NOT that bad! Believe me, if I can figure this stuff out, so can you!
Another cost-share program is EQIP.
This is an acronym for Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This program allows cost-share funding for various forestry and wildlife related projects as well.
The EQIP programs allows cost-share funding for many of the same types of projects as the REAP program does. One major difference is that the EQIP program has a continuous signup period. With priority given to the applications that come in first — first-come, first served.
For 2017, there is priority ranking to all applications received to Oct 21. There is a second priority cutoff of March 17.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t apply after these dates. You can apply at any time.
A second major difference between EQIP and the REAP programs is that EQUIP rates are typically lower than those through REAP.
Why would anyone choose to go with EQIP instead of REAP then, you ask?
For one reason, money is pretty much always available through EQIP.
REAP cost -share funding is granted on an annual basis to Iowa with counties getting funded, typically, in late summer. Many counties run out of REAP funding by early spring or earlier. So if your county is out of REAP funding when you like to do your project, then you can always sign up for EQUIP instead.
Both programs require management plans. These can be drafted by the project biologist, forester, or professional company hired to complete the project.
Still, other cost-share and income producing programs exist for Iowa landowners.
Most everyone has heard of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) .
Many people envision a vast sea of grasses sweeping across the landscape when thinking of a CRP field.
Most of these fields would be considered general signup projects.
This is where the United States Department of Agriculture pays landowners to plant approved fields to grassland habitat to protect those acres from erosion. These general sign-up periods happen from time to time and often seem to occur at the spur of the moment!
It’s a good idea to continually monitor the Iowa Farm Service Agency’s website or stay in-tune with your county FSA office for updates on the CRP program and any sign-up periods.
Landowners are generally allowed a percentage of the establishment cost to plant these fields — typically up to 50%
This saves the landowner thousands of dollars and helps him make his land way more valuable, too, from wildlife and recreational value perspective, as well! It’s a big win-win!
CRP programs pay the participant on an annual basis and contracts are either for 10 or for 15 years.
And, there is WAY more to CRP than just the continual sign-up program.
From bee pollinator grass and flower plantings, to food plots, wetland establishment and tree plantings. If you own land and desire to help your wildlife and the environment – and your recreational land value – then you need to investigate deeper into the various CRP practices that exist.
At last count, there were 42 different CRP practices that eligible Iowa landowners can sign up for on a continuous basis. That means, there is no sign-up period for these programs. You can go into your county FSA office and apply for these programs at any time.
There are various wetland conservation programs that are available to landowners as well. The various contracts and options of enrollments are numerous and somewhat complicated. You can dig into that information as desired.
And there is also something called the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSR).
Through the CSR landowner,s can acquire cost-share dollars to help with prescribed burning, upland wildlife management, wetland habitat improvements, crop tree management to increase mast (fruit and nut) production, tree plantings and more!
You can even use CSR to create wildlife movement corridors, for wildlife watering management and for help with leaving standing crops available to deer and other wildlife. You can even get cost-share funding to improve monarch butterfly habitat.
Of course, there are stipulations on using the CSR: you have to first qualify and be approved.
Just like all the other programs. With the CSR program, there are income limitations on individuals to qualify for cost-share dollars and there are other stipulations as well. But it is a program worth check out!