Woodward, Okla. —
STILLWATER - Applications are being accepted though Feb. 15 for participation in the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
NRCS Resource Conservationist Joy Martin said the program is designed to create conservation easements between agricultural and non-agricultural land.
Details of the required information for the application is available at www.ok.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/frpp/index.html.
"Urban sprawl continues to threaten the amount of farm and ranch land available in the nation," she said. "The protection program helps provide a buffer for the urban sprawl."
Furnished under the 2008 Farm Bill, eligible entities which may apply include state, local, Indian tribes, or a nongovernmental organization which has an ongoing farmland protection program that purchases agricultural easements for the purpose of protecting agriculture use and related conservation values by limiting conversion to nonagricultural uses of the land.
Martin said the eligible properties for receiving the easement protection, which lasts 30 years, include privately-owned farm/ranch land that contains prime, unique, statewide or locally-important factors; contains historical or archeological resources; or furthers a state or local policy; and is subject to a pending offer to purchase by an eligible entity.
She said the conservation and protection methods are currently in place near Fort Sill by Lawton and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, helping to restrict nonagricultural expansion.
Proposals for consideration in the protection program will be submitted to Dick Zetterberg, Acting State USDA Conservationist, NRCS, 100 USDA, Suite 206, Stillwater, OK, 74074-2655. A deadline to make the announcement of recipients of up to $300,000 in NRCS grants for a 6-year period has not yet been set, officials said.
Martin said more information is available on the website, or she may be contacted at (405) 742-1234 or joy.martin@ok,usda.gov.