Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, 16719-16728 [2010-7515]

Download as PDF 16719 Notices Federal Register Vol. 75, No. 63 Friday, April 2, 2010 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency statements of organization and functions are examples of documents appearing in this section. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Information Collection; Forest Landscape Value and Special Place Mapping for National Forest Planning Forest Service, USDA. Notice; request for comment. AGENCY: mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES ACTION: SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on the new information collection, Forest Landscape Value and Special Place Mapping for National Forest Planning. DATES: Comments must be received in writing on or before June 1, 2010 to be assured of consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable. ADDRESSES: Comments concerning this notice should be addressed to Dr. Patrick Reed, National Human Dimensions Program Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service, 3301 C Street, Suite 202, Anchorage, AK 99503. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to preed01@fs.fed.us. The public may inspect comments received at 201 14th St., SW., 3CEN during normal business hours. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to 202– 205–9969 or 202–360–3486 to facilitate entry to the building. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Patrick Reed, USDA Forest Service, 907–743–9571. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: Forest Landscape Value and Special Place Mapping for National Forest Planning. OMB Number: 0596–NEW. Type of Request: New. VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 Abstract: The Forest Service is proposing to augment the public participation process for revision of national forest land management plans by collecting data about the nature and location of landscape values and special places recognized by the public on national forest lands. Over the next 3 years, up to 15 national forest units will collect the aforementioned information as part of the national forest plan revision public participation process. The forest plan revision includes determining public desire for use (along with suitability of areas for different uses), identification of special areas, collaboration with the public, and monitoring for adaptive management. Primarily using an Internet-based geographic information system (GIS), national forests will invite the public to share values regarding specific forest landscapes and special places. A comparable paper-based option, suitable for use in mail back surveys and focus group meetings, may be provided to individuals who do not have access to the Internet or as an alternative primary means of collecting data. The information will be used in the revision of specific national forest plans. Forest planners and managers will use the collected information to develop land management plans that are consistent with public values, while working within the regulatory framework. The data collected would provide Forest Service managers with a new, systematic science-based tool for collecting and analyzing public opinion about desired forest conditions and use of specific geographic forest locations. Survey results will be useful in gauging public support for proposed forest management options and in collaborative and participatory approaches to planning. While the collection is designed to assist with development of forest land management plans under NFMA, the information collected could be used in a variety of forest planning processes (i.e., travel management and recreation facilities planning) and projects. The legal authorities supporting the collection of this information include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976, and the proposed 2008 NFMA Planning Rule (36 CFR part 219). PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Estimate of Annual Burden: 20 minutes. Type of Respondents: Individuals; State, county, and tribal governments; as well as for-profit and non-profit entities. Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 3,500 (average of 3 years). Estimated Annual Number of Responses per Respondent: 1. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 1,167 hours (average of 3 years). Comment is Invited: Comment is invited on: (1) Whether this collection of information is necessary for the stated purposes and the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical or scientific utility; (2) the accuracy of the Agency’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission request toward Office of Management and Budget approval. Dated: March 29, 2010. Gloria Manning, Associate Deputy Chief, NFS. [FR Doc. 2010–7551 Filed 4–1–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–11–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Commodity Credit Corporation Agricultural Water Enhancement Program AGENCY: Commodity Credit Corporation and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture. ACTION: Notice of request for proposals. SUMMARY: Section 2510 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Act) established the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) by amending section 1240I of the Food E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES 16720 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices Security Act of 1985. The Secretary of Agriculture delegated the authority for AWEP to the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who is Vice President of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). NRCS is an agency of the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Effective upon publication of this notice, NRCS announces the availability of approximately $20.7 million in AWEP financial assistance during fiscal year (FY) 2010 to support new AWEP projects. The AWEP is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement agricultural water enhancement activities on agricultural land for the purposes of conserving surface and ground water and improving water quality. As part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), AWEP operates through program contracts with producers to plan and implement conservation practices in project areas established through partnership agreements. The purpose of this notice is to inform agricultural producers of the potential availability of program funds and to solicit proposals from potential partners seeking partnership agreements with the Chief to promote the conservation of ground and surface water and the improvement of water quality. This is not a grant program to partners, and all Federal funding offered through this authority will be paid directly to agricultural producers through individual contract agreements. DATES: Effective Date: The notice of request is effective April 2, 2010. Eligible partners may submit proposals by mail or via courier. • By mail: proposals must be postmarked May 17, 2010. • By courier: proposals must be delivered May 17, 2010. ADDRESSES: Written proposals should be submitted to the addresses identified below, with copies to the appropriate NRCS State Conservationist whose names and addresses are identified as an attachment to this notice. If a project is multi-State in scope, potential partners must send each State Conservationist in the proposed project areas the proposal for review. • By mail: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, ‘‘AWEP Proposal,’’ 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5239 South Building, Washington, DC 20250. (Note: Registered or Certified Mail to a Post Office will not be accepted.) VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 • By courier: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, ‘‘AWEP Proposal,’’ 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5239 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, Telephone: (202) 720–1845. Proposals will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Please ask the guard at the entrance to the South Building to call (202) 720–1845. Note: Proposals submitted via fax, e-mail, or after the deadline date listed in this notice will not be considered. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5239 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, Telephone: (202) 720–1845; Fax: (202) 720–4265; or E-mail: AWEP@wdc.usda.gov. Additional information regarding AWEP is available at the following NRCS Web page: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ programs/AWEP/. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact the USDA TARGET Center at: (202) 720–2600 (voice and TDD). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice includes significant additions from the 2009 notice issued last fiscal year. The basic authority, procedures, and program requirements have not changed. Partners who responded to the 2009 notice reported difficulty in understanding where and how to apply, confusion about administration and purpose of the new AWEP authority and requirements of partners, misunderstanding that AWEP was not a grant program for partners, lack of knowledge about NRCS resource concerns and conservation practices that needed to be addressed through the partnership, frustration in NRCS terminology used in the notices, and other similar concerns. As the result of these concerns, the agency conducted an internal examination of AWEP to better clarify the program and requirements for proposal submission. In addition to the internal review, the agency also invited suggestions from legislators, producers, and other organizations with an interest in AWEP. As a result of the review, this notice includes more explanation of the program, added definitions, clarification of the requirements and criteria to be addressed in the proposal, links to PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 resources to help partners apply, and other general improvements. The requirements for submission of the proposal are not significantly different from 2009, and pose no additional burden or workload. Availability of Funding Effective upon publication of this notice, NRCS announces the availability of approximately $20.7 million in AWEP financial assistance during FY 2010 to support new AWEP projects. NRCS will implement AWEP by entering into partnership agreements with eligible entities to conserve ground and surface water or improve water quality, or both, through a regional approach. Eligible partners must submit complete proposals, as described in this notice, to Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division. Proposals are submitted by eligible partners, and project evaluation will be based upon a competitive process and the criteria established in this notice. Once the Chief approves a partner’s proposal and announces selection, agricultural producers within the project area may submit an AWEP application directly to their local NRCS office. Only specific kinds of entities are eligible to submit a proposal and enter into partnership agreements with NRCS; these include federally recognized Indian tribes, State and local units of government, agricultural or silvicultural associations, and other groups of producers such as an irrigation association, agricultural land trust, or other nongovernmental organization that has experience working with agricultural producers. Nongovernmental organizations are entities as defined by the Internal Revenue Service and as cited in the definitions section of this notice. This is not a grant program, and all Federal funds made available through this request for proposals will be paid directly to producers through program contract agreements. Individual agricultural producers are not AWEP eligible entities and may not submit AWEP proposals, nor may they apply for program benefits through this proposal submission process; however, once an AWEP project area has been approved and announced, individual producers may apply for program benefits through their local NRCS office. No Federal AWEP funding may be used to cover administrative expenses of partners. Administrative activities include any indirect or direct costs relating to submitting or implementing the project proposal. E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices Definitions Activities means conservation systems, practices, or management measures needed to address a resource concern or improve environmental quality through the treatment of natural resources, and includes structural, vegetative, and management practices, as well as the activity for development of conservation plans, as determined by NRCS. Activities may also include actions associated with an agricultural operation or other activities conducted by an AWEP partner which may or may not be associated with an NRCS conservation practice or program support. Agricultural land means cropland, grassland, rangeland, pasture, and other agricultural land on which agricultural and forest-related products or livestock are produced and resource concerns may be addressed. Other agricultural lands may include cropped woodland, marshes, incidental areas included in the agricultural operation, and other types of agricultural land used for production of livestock. Agricultural water enhancement activity means the following, conducted in accordance with State water law: (a) Water quality or water conservation plan development, including resource condition assessment and modeling; (b) Water conservation restoration or enhancement projects, including the conversion to the production of less water-intensive agricultural commodities or dryland farming; (c) Water quality or quantity restoration or enhancement projects; (d) Irrigation system improvement and irrigation efficiency enhancements; (e) Activities designed to mitigate the effects of drought, (e.g., construction, improvement, or maintenance of irrigation ponds, small on-farm reservoirs, or other agricultural water impoundment structures that are designed to capture surface water runoff); and (f) Related activities that the Chief determines will help achieve water quality or water conservation benefits on agricultural land. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Note: Not all listed activities are currently supported by NRCS practice standards or funded through NRCS programs. Applicant means a person, legal entity, joint operation, or tribe that has an interest in an agricultural or forestry operation, as defined in 7 CFR part 1400, who has requested to participate in AWEP. Beginning Farmer or Rancher means a person or legal entity who: VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 (a) Has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years. This requirement applies to all members of an entity who will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch. (b) In the case of a contract with an individual, individually, or with the immediate family, material and substantial participation requires that the individual provide substantial dayto-day labor and management of the farm or ranch consistent with the practices in the county or State where the farm is located. (c) In the case of a contract with an entity or joint operation, all members must materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch. Material and substantial participation requires that each of the members provide some amount of the management or labor and management necessary for day-to-day activities, such that if each of the members did not provide these inputs, operation of the farm or ranch would be seriously impaired. Chief means Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or designee. Conservation Activity Plan means a resource-specific conservation plan prepared by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) as authorized by the 2008 Act for financial assistance payment through EQIP for eligible land of the producer. Conservation planning means using the planning process outlined in the NRCS National Planning Procedures Handbook (NPPH). The NPPH is available at: http:// directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/. Conservation practice means one or more conservation improvements and planning activities, including structural practices, land management practices, vegetative practices, forest management practices, and other improvements that are planned and applied according to standards and specifications contained in the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). Conservation practices and activities funded through AWEP are subject to requirements of EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.10) (http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip). Only EQIP may provide financial assistance for support of the activity of conservation planning. Conservation system means a combination of conservation practices and management measures used to address natural resource and environmental concerns in a comprehensive, holistic, and integrated manner. PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 16721 Contract as defined in the EQIP regulation means a legal document that specifies the rights and obligations of any participant accepted to participate in the AWEP program. An AWEP contract is a binding agreement for the transfer of assistance from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the participant to share in the costs of applying conservation practices. Contracts funded through AWEP are subject to requirements of EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.21) (http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip). Designated Conservationist means an NRCS employee whom the State Conservationist has designated as responsible for administration of NRCS programs at the local level. Environmental Quality Incentives Program means a program administered by NRCS in accordance with 7 CFR part 1466 (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ programs/eqip), which provides technical and financial assistance to eligible producers for the installation and implementation of conservation practices and activities on private agricultural and nonindustrial forest land. Exceptional Drought (D–4) means, as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, exceptional widespread crop/pasture losses; exceptional fire risk; and shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies. Field Office Technical Guide means the official local NRCS source of resource information, conservation practice standards, specifications, and interpretation of guidelines, criteria, and requirements for planning and applying conservation practices, activities, and conservation management systems. It contains natural resource quality criteria to be achieved to provide for the conservation and sustainability of soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources applicable to the geographic area where resource concerns are addressed. The FOTG can be accessed online at: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/. Financial Assistance means a payment made to the program participant. Forest management plan means a sitespecific plan that is prepared by a professional resource manager, in consultation with the participant, and is approved by the State Conservationist. Forest management plans may include a forest stewardship plan, as specified in section 5 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2103a); another practice plan approved by the State Forester; or another plan determined appropriate by the State E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES 16722 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices Conservationist. The plan must comply with Federal, State, tribal, and local laws, regulations, and permit requirements. Indian land is an inclusive term describing all lands held in trust by the United States for individual Indians or tribes, or all lands, titles to which are held by individual Indians or tribes, subject to Federal restrictions against alienation or encumbrance, or all lands that are subject to the rights of use, occupancy, or benefit of certain tribes. For purposes of this notice, the term Indian land also includes land for which the title is held in fee status by Indian tribes and the United States Government owned land under the Bureau of Indian Affairs jurisdiction. Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) that is federally recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians. Joint Agreement means a business arrangement where two or more participants cooperate to carry out conservation practices that can best be accomplished by combining resources. Such agreements must be formally documented and signed by all applicable parties. Joint Operation means a general partnership, joint venture, or other similar business arrangement in which the members are jointly and severally liable for the obligations of the organization. Limited Resource Farmer or Rancher means: (a) A person with direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than $155,200 in each of the previous 2 years (adjusted for inflation using Prices Paid by Farmer Index as compiled by the National Agricultural Statistical Service); and (b) Has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four, or less than 50 percent of county median household income in each of the previous 2 years (to be determined annually using Department of Commerce data). Local working group means the advisory body pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 3861 and described in 7 CFR part 610. Information regarding these groups can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ programs/StateTech/. Nongovernmental organization is any legal entity that is organized for, and at all times since, the formation of the organization has been operated VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 principally for one or more of the conservation purposes specified in clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of section 170(h)(4)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) or that is described in section 509(a)(2) of that Code; or is described in section 509(a)(3) of that Code and is controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of that Code. Nonindustrial private forest land means rural land, as determined by the Secretary, that has existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees and is owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation, Indian tribe, or other private legal entity that has definitive decisionmaking authority over the land. Participant means a person, legal entity, joint operation, or tribe that is receiving payment or is responsible for implementing the terms and conditions of an EQIP contract. Partner means an entity that enters into a partnership agreement with NRCS to carry out the approved AWEP project. Eligible partners include federally recognized Indian tribes, State and local units of government, agricultural or silvicultural associations, or other such groups of agricultural producers. Note: Individual agricultural producers are not partners under provisions of AWEP and are not eligible to submit proposals as outlined in this notice. Partner applicant means an eligible entity that enters into a partnership agreement with NRCS to carry out the approved AWEP project. Partnership agreement means a multiyear agreement between NRCS and the partner. The AWEP partnership agreement describes the activities and resources, such as technical or financial assistance, that may be provided by NRCS and the partner to help producers meet the objectives of AWEP in an approved project area. The AWEP partnership agreement does not transfer financial or technical assistance funding to a partner, nor provide for the administrative expenses of the partner. Individual producers may not enter into partnership agreements under AWEP authority. Payment means financial assistance provided to a contract participant under the terms of the program contract. The payment is based upon the estimated costs incurred for performing or implementing conservation practices and activities, including costs for planning, materials, equipment, labor, design and installation, maintenance, management, or training, as well as the estimated income foregone by the producer for designated conservation PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 practices. AWEP payments are only made to eligible agricultural producers through program contracts. Payments and payment rates are established by program rule. Payments are only provided to assist with implementation of approved conservation practices and activities listed in the FOTG and must meet other requirements of EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.23–24) (http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip). Priority resource concern means a resource concern that is identified by the State Conservationist, with advice from the State Technical Committee and local work groups, as a priority for a State or the specific geographic areas within a State. Producer means a person, legal entity, or joint operation who has an interest in the agricultural operation, according to 7 CFR part 1400, or who is engaged in agricultural production or forestry management. Projects of Special Environmental Significance means projects, as defined in 7 CFR 1466(d) and approved by the Chief, which meet the following criteria: (a) Site-specific evaluations have been completed, documenting that the project will have substantial positive impacts on critical resources in or near the project area (e.g., impaired water bodies or at-risk species); (b) The project clearly addresses a national priority and State, tribal, or local priorities, as applicable; and (c) The project assists the participant in complying with Federal, State, and local regulatory requirements. Rangeland means land on which the historic climax plant community is predominantly grasses, grass-like plants, forbs, or shrubs, and includes lands revegetated naturally or artificially when routine management of that vegetation is accomplished mainly through manipulation of grazing. Rangelands include natural grasslands, savannas, shrublands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal marshes, and wet meadows. Resource concern means a specific natural resource problem that represents a significant concern in a State or region, and is likely to be addressed successfully through the implementation of conservation activities by producers. The two natural resource concerns that may be addressed through AWEP are water conservation or water quality and include the following sub categories: Water Quantity (Water Conservation): • Aquifer Overdraft • Excessive Runoff, Flooding, or Ponding • Excessive Seepage • Excessive Subsurface Water E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices • Inadequate Outlets • Inefficient Water Use on Irrigated Land • Inefficient Water Use on Nonirrigated Land • Insufficient Flows in Water Courses • Rangeland Hydrologic Cycle • Reduced Capacity of Conveyances by Sediment Deposition • Reduced Storage of Water Bodies by Sediment Accumulation Water Quality: • Excessive Nutrients and Organics in Groundwater • Excessive Nutrients and Organics in Surface Water • Excessive Salinity in Groundwater • Excessive Salinity in Surface Water • Excessive Suspended Sediment and Turbidity in Surface Water • Harmful Levels of Pathogens in Groundwater • Harmful Levels of Pathogens in Surface Water • Harmful Levels of Pesticides in Groundwater • Harmful Levels of Pesticides in Surface Water • Harmful Temperatures of Surface Water Resource concerns used by NRCS are found in section III of each State or local FOTG which can be found at: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/. Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher means a farmer or rancher who has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Those groups include African Americans, American Indians or Alaskan natives, Hispanics, Asians, and native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders. State Conservationist means the NRCS employee who is authorized to implement conservation programs administered by NRCS, and who directs and supervises NRCS activities in a State, the Caribbean Area, or the Pacific Islands Area. State Technical Committee means a committee established by the USDA Secretary in a State pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 3861 and described in 7 CFR part 610. Information regarding these committees can be found at: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ StateTech/. Technical assistance means technical expertise, information, and tools necessary for the conservation of natural resources on land active in agricultural, forestry, or related uses. The term includes the following: (1) Technical services provided directly to farmers, ranchers, and other eligible entities, such as conservation planning, technical consultation, and assistance VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 with the design and implementation of conservation practices; and (2) technical infrastructure including activities, processes, tools, and agency functions needed to support delivery of technical services, such as technical standards, resource inventories, training, data, technology, monitoring, and effects analyses. Information regarding technical assistance can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ cta/. Technical Service Provider means an individual, private-sector entity, or public agency certified by NRCS, in accordance with 7 CFR part 652, to provide technical services to program participants in lieu of or on behalf of NRCS. Information regarding TSP services available through AWEP is found in the EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.11) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ programs/eqip). Overview of the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program Background The AWEP is a voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement agricultural water enhancement activities using conservation practices on eligible land for the purposes of conserving surface and ground water and improving water quality. As part of EQIP, AWEP operates through contracts with eligible producers to plan and implement approved conservation practices and activities to conserve ground and surface water and improve water quality in project areas established through partnership agreements. Producers located in approved AWEP project areas, announced by partners and NRCS, may submit an application for program assistance at their local NRCS service center or field office. As part of the partnership agreement, approved partners may also help facilitate the submission of producers’ applications, or they may provide additional technical or financial assistance to participating agricultural producers, or provide other resources as defined in the agreement. A primary intent of AWEP is to leverage other non-Federal resources along with NRCS program resources to achieve program objectives. Partners are encouraged to include in their proposals resources to help producers implement approved conservation practices and activities and provisions to address those AWEP priority activities that NRCS does not have the authority to implement (e.g. resource condition assessment and PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 16723 modeling). The partner is not required to provide financial or technical resources towards the project (match); however, proposals that include or offer partner provided resources will be given higher priority consideration in the evaluation process. AWEP financial assistance is delivered directly to producers in approved project areas through contract agreements. No technical or financial assistance funding may be provided to a partner through the AWEP partner agreement. However, if requested by a partner, the State Conservationist or Chief may consider development of a separate funding agreement with a qualified partner for delivery of technical services to producers participating in an approved AWEP project. Submitting Proposals Potential partners must submit a complete proposal to Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, addressing all questions and items listed in the ‘‘Proposal Requirements’’ section of this notice. The proposal must include sufficient detail to allow NRCS to understand the partner’s priority resource concerns, objectives, and expected outcomes. Incomplete proposals and those that do not meet the requirements set forth in this notice will not be considered, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the applicant. The proposal must also be accompanied by letters of review from the appropriate State Conservationists to the Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division as specified in this notice. The Chief or designee will review, prioritize, and evaluate the proposals based on the criteria provided in this notice. State Conservationists will provide guidance to potential partners regarding resource concerns that may be addressed in the proposed project area, local working group and State Technical Committee natural resource priorities, approved conservation practices and activities, and other program requirements the partner should consider when developing a proposal. Partner Entity Eligibility Potential partner entities that are eligible to participate as partners include federally recognized Indian tribes, States and local units of government, agricultural or silvicultural associations, or other groups of producers, such as an irrigation association, agricultural land trust, or other nongovernmental organization that has experience working with agricultural producers. Individual E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 16724 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices producers are not eligible to submit proposals under this notice. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Producer Eligibility Individual producers are eligible to apply for program benefits as part of an approved AWEP project as determined by the requirements of this notice and EQIP regulation found in 7 CFR 1466.8 (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ eqip). Producers seeking to participate in an approved AWEP project must meet all EQIP program eligibility requirements. Producer Applications and Contracts Agricultural producers in approved project areas may apply for available AWEP funds at their local USDA service center or NRCS field office (http:// offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/ app?agency=nrcs). Once an application is selected, an eligible agricultural producer will enter into a contract with NRCS to implement approved conservation practices that address the water conservation and water quality resource concerns identified in the partnership proposal and agreement. Through these contracts, NRCS provides payments to agricultural producers for implementing conservation practices that meet the agricultural water enhancement activities and goals of the project. The term of the contract agreement with a producer will be for a minimum duration of one year after completion of the last practice, but not more than 10 years. In States with water quantity concerns, where the partner proposal includes conservation management practices that assist producers with the conversion of agricultural land from irrigated farming to dryland farming, NRCS may enter into contracts that provide a producer payments for applicable practices for up to 5 years as needed to complete the conversion when the conversion activity is consistent with State law. Conversion activities are supported through AWEP by implementation of approved conservation practices. An agricultural producer may elect to use a TSP for technical assistance associated with conservation planning or practice design and implementation. A participant may not receive payments that exceed an aggregate of $300,000, directly or indirectly, for all EQIP and AWEP contracts, including prior year contracts entered into during any 6-year period. The Chief may waive this limitation allowing up to $450,000 for projects of special environmental significance as defined in this notice and EQIP regulation in section § 1466.21(d). All agricultural producers VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 receiving assistance through AWEP must meet EQIP program eligibility requirements and will be subject to EQIP payment limitations and other requirements. Producers applying for AWEP are not required to have an existing EQIP contract. However, they must be determined eligible for EQIP assistance prior to entering into an AWEP contract. Information about limitations and benefits that apply to land and agricultural producers enrolled in the AWEP program are found in the EQIP authorizing legislation (16 U.S.C. 3839aa) and regulation (7 CFR part 1466) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ programs/eqip). Land Eligibility The following land is eligible for enrollment in the AWEP through program contracts with producers: • Private agricultural land. • Indian land. • Publicly owned land where: Æ The conservation practices to be implemented on the public land are necessary and will contribute to an improvement in the identified resource concern; Æ The land is a working component of the participant’s agricultural or forestry operation; and Æ The participant has control of the land for the term of the contract. For producer contracts that address water conservation and irrigation related conservation practices, EQIP regulation requires that land must be irrigated 2 of the previous 5 years prior to application for assistance (7 CFR 1466.10(d)). AWEP projects that include agricultural lands not irrigated for 2 of the previous 5 years, the construction, improvement, or maintenance of irrigation ponds, small on-farm reservoirs, or other agricultural water impoundment structures that are designed to capture surface water runoff, are eligible only in an area that is experiencing or has experienced exceptional drought conditions between June 18, 2006, and June 18, 2008. A list of States and counties that are designated exceptional drought areas is found on the AWEP Web site at: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep/. Additional information regarding land eligibility to meet EQIP requirements are found in 7 CFR 1466.8 and available at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ eqip. Proposal Requirements For consideration of a proposal, a potential partner must submit five copies of the written proposal and one PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 electronic copy for single-State or multiState projects that do not exceed 5 years in length. The proposal must be in the following format and contain the information set forth below: Proposal Format: Five copies of the proposal should be typewritten or printed on 81⁄2″ × 11″ white paper. The text of the application should be in a font no smaller than 12-point, with oneinch margins. One additional copy of the proposal must be in a format such as Microsoft Word or PDF on one CD ROM. If submitting more than one proposal, submit a separate proposal for each project. Consult the NRCS national AWEP Web site for an example of an acceptable AWEP proposal document at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ awep/. The entire proposal may not exceed 12 pages in length including summary, maps, reference materials, and related reports. Proposal Summary The basic format for the AWEP proposal is a narrative written response to the questions and information requested in this notice. There are no forms required or associated with the proposal submission process; however, the proposal must include the following: (1) Proposal Cover Sheet and Summary: The first two pages of the proposal summary must include: (a) Project Title. (b) Project director/manager name, telephone number, and e-mail address. (c) Name of lead partner entity submitting proposal and other collaborating partners. (d) Mailing address and phone numbers for lead partner submitting proposal. (e) Short general description/ summary of project; describe whether proposal will address water conservation resource issues, water quality resource issues, or both. Identify the specific natural resource concerns to be addressed, and describe the approved FOTG conservation practices and activities that will be used to address those resource concerns, including practices that will be used to help producers in the conversion of irrigated farming to dryland farming. (f) Specify the geographic location: State(s), County(s), congressional district(s), and whether proposal is a multi-State proposal or within-State proposal. Include a general location map that shows if the location of the project area is within an AWEP national priority area, which are: • Eastern Snake Plains Aquifer. • Everglades. • Ogallala Aquifer. E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices • Puget Sound. • Sacramento River Basin. • Red River. • Upper Mississippi River Basin. Additional information, maps, and a list of States and counties located in AWEP priority areas can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ awep/. (g) Proposed project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 5 years). (h) Total amount of AWEP financial assistance being requested for entire project. (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions: The proposal must include project objectives that address water quality or water quantity resource concerns. (a) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource concern(s) to be addressed and how the proposals objectives will address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, resultsoriented, and include a timeline for completion. (b) For each objective, identify the actions to be completed to achieve the objective and to address the identified natural resource concern using AWEP assistance or the actions being addressed using alternate non-Federal resources or fund sources. (c) Identify the total number of acres that need conservation treatment along with the kinds of conservation practices and activities needed to treat priority resource concerns in the project area. Identify specific priorities within the project area that need to be addressed first. (d) The proposed agricultural water enhancement activities that may be implemented through partner efforts alone and those to be implemented using AWEP financial support. (3) Partnership Capacity: Potential partners must fully describe their project and demonstrate their history of working with agricultural producers to address water quality and quantity issues. Information provided in the proposal must: (a) Demonstrate the commitment and experience of the partner to accomplish the long-term conservation of surface and ground water or water quality improvement and related historical activities that show this experience. (b) Demonstrate the ability and history of the partner to coordinate water quality and quantity efforts among agricultural producers. (c) Demonstrate the availability of non-Federal matching funds or other resources being contributed. A primary intent of AWEP is to leverage other nonFederal resources along with NRCS VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 program resources to achieve program objectives. The partner is not required to provide financial or technical resources towards the project (match); however, proposals that include or offer partner provided resources will be given higher priority through the evaluation process. The partner needs to clearly state, by project objective, how they intend to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources to address water quantity or water quality resource issues. Note: The funding and time contribution by agricultural producers to implement agreed-to conservation practices in program contracts may not be considered any part of a match from the potential partner for purposes of AWEP. One purpose of AWEP is to leverage new resources from partners above and beyond those contributions made by individual producers. (d) Demonstrate the ability to monitor and evaluate project effects on natural resources. Priority will be given to projects where the partner can provide resources, services, or conduct activities to monitor and evaluate effects of conservation practices and activities implemented through the project. (e) Provide evidence the partner has the capacity to deliver a final project performance report. If a proposal is approved, the partnership agreement will provide additional details and requirements for reporting performance of the project effort. (f) Identify potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize and rank agricultural producers’ AWEP applications in the project area. Potential partners should collaborate with NRCS in the State where the project is proposed to develop meaningful criteria that NRCS can use to evaluate and rank producer program applications. For approved projects, this joint effort will help NRCS select producer applications which will best accomplish the projects intended conservation goals and address priority resource issues identified by the partner in the proposal. Additional information regarding the process NRCS uses to evaluate and rank individual producer applications is found in EQIP regulation 7 CFR 1466.20. Proposals which include specific ranking criteria developed in collaboration with NRCS may receive higher consideration in the evaluation process. Additional guidance and assistance to develop appropriate criteria may be obtained from the State office where the project will be located. (g) A description of how the partners and entities will collaborate to achieve the project objectives and the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of each partner. Proposals that include PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 16725 resources from other than the submitter must include a letter or other documentation from the other partner confirming this commitment of resources. Proposals that demonstrate efforts to collaborate with other partners and producers are likely to provide increased environmental benefits, meet the objectives of AWEP, and may receive higher ranking consideration in the evaluation process. (h) A description of the proposed agricultural water enhancement activities and approved NRCS conservation practices and activities to be applied within the designated 5-year timeframe allowed for AWEP projects and the general sequence of implementation of the project. Enhancement activities include efforts undertaken by the partner and those that the partner requests NRCS to address through financial support to implement eligible approved conservation practices and activities. In this section, list all the NRCS conservation practices the partner wishes NRCS to offer to producers through the AWEP project. Information about NRCS practices can be found in the FOTG at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ technical/efotg/ and descriptions of practices at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ technical/standards/. For each conservation practice, estimate the extent (feet, acres, number, etc.) the partner expects producers to implement each fiscal year during the life of the project and the amount of financial assistance requested to support implementation of each practice through producer contracts. Provide detail if the project will address regulatory compliance and any other outcomes the partner expects to complete during the project period. (i) A description of the resources (financial or technical assistance) requested annually from AWEP for producer contracts and the non-Federal resources provided by the partner that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. From the estimated amount of financial assistance needed to implement the conservation practices identified in the previous section, include the total amount of financial assistance funds requested for each fiscal year of the project to be made available for producer contracts. If resources other than funding are being offered by the partner, describe the kind of resources and services that will be made available to producers to help implement conservation practices and activities. Note: The funding and time contribution by agricultural producers to implement agreed-to conservation practices in the program contracts may E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES 16726 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices not be considered as part of a match from the potential partner. All funding requests and information regarding partner resources may be included in the form of a budget narrative. If financial assistance is approved and available, these funds must be obligated in individual producer contracts that may be from 2 to 10 years in length. (4) Lands to be Treated: The proposal should describe the geographic area to be covered by the partnership agreement. Specifically, the proposal should include: (a) A map showing the proposed project area. Describe the location and size of the proposed project area. Are the size and scope of the project area and proposed practices to address resource concerns reasonable and achievable? What kinds of agricultural operations are in the project area? Is the project located in a water conservation priority area or include any Indian land? (b) A description of the agricultural water quality or water conservation issues to be addressed by the partnership agreement. Provide information about the extent and kinds of water quality issues to be addressed such as pollutants, designated priority areas, groundwater overdraft, surface water deficiencies, etc. (c) A description of the agricultural water enhancement objectives to be achieved through the partnership and the NRCS practices expected to be implemented. What are the primary objectives to be accomplished in the project by the partner and expected environmental improvements from producer implementation of AWEP funded conservation practices and activities? How will progress toward achieving environmental benefits be measured? What kinds of water conservation plans, assessments, or modeling will be done to help achieve project objectives or encourage practice implementation? Will the project include specific efforts to encourage producers to convert irrigated land to less water-intensive operations or dryland farming? What percentage of the project area is expected to be converted to dryland farming? Will the proposal restore or enhance water quantity or quality in the project area or reduce the impacts of drought? What kinds of irrigation system improvements will be implemented? Will the planned activities significantly solve or improve the resource issues being addressed? Describe any activities that are innovative or include outcome-based performance measures implemented by the partner. (d) Include the total acres that need conservation treatment and the priority VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 conservation practices and activities that are needed to treat significant resource concerns in the project area. Identify specific priorities within the project area that need to be addressed first. (5) Producer Information: The partner must identify in the proposal: An estimate of the number of eligible agricultural producers the partner expects to participate in the project compared with the estimated total number of producers in the project area (estimate the percentage of participation). Producer participation is a requirement for delivery of AWEP program benefits. How will the partner encourage participation to guarantee success of the project? Does the project include socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, beginning farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, or Indian tribes? Are there groups of producers who may submit joint program applications to address resource issues of common interest and need? (6) Proposal Implementation Plan and Schedule: Potential partners must submit project action plans and schedules, not to exceed 5 years, detailing activities, including timeframes related to project milestones and monitoring and evaluation activities that will likely be documented in the partnership agreement. A project action plan should describe how often the potential partner plans to monitor and evaluate the project and how it plans to quantify the results or performance of the project for the final project performance report. Indicate the practices the partner expects to implement during the project timeframe and general sequence of implementation. (7) Letter of Review: Potential partners must include a copy of the letter showing that the written proposal was sent to the appropriate State Conservationist(s). If a project is multi-State in scope, all State Conservationists in the proposed project area must be sent the proposal for review. The State Conservationist(s) will review the proposal to address: (a) Potential duplication of efforts with other projects or existing programs. (b) Adherence to, and consistency with, overall EQIP regulation including requirements related to land and producer eligibility and use of approved NRCS resource concerns and conservation practices and other program requirements. (c) Expected benefits for project implementation in their State(s). PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (d) Other issues or concerns the State Conservationist is aware of that should be considered by the Chief. (e) A general recommendation for support or denial of project approval. State Conservationist(s) must submit letters of review to Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division no later than 10 calendar days after the deadline for proposal submission. A list of NRCS State Conservationists, addresses, and phone numbers is included as an attachment at the end of this notice. Prior to submission of the proposal, potential partners are strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate State Conservationist(s) during proposal development to obtain guidance as to appropriate resource concerns to address needed water quality or water conservation enhancements, needed conservation practices and activities, and other details of the project proposal. All AWEP proposals become the property of NRCS for use in the administration of the program, may be filed or disposed of by the agency, and will not be returned to the potential partner. Once proposals have been submitted to the agency for review and ranking, there will be no further opportunity to change or re-submit the proposal document. Acknowledgement of Submission and Notifications Partners whose proposals have been selected will receive a letter of official notification. Upon notification of selection, the partner should contact the State Conservationist listed in the letter to develop the required partnership agreement and other project implementation requirements. Potential partners should note that depending upon available funding, NRCS may offer a reduced amount of program financial assistance from what was requested in the proposal. Partner submissions of proposals that were not selected will be notified by official letter. Withdrawal of Proposals Partner proposals may be withdrawn by written notice to the Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division at any time prior to selection. Ranking Considerations The Chief or designee will evaluate the proposals using a competitive process. Higher priority may be given to proposals that: (a) Include high percentages of agricultural land and producers in a region or other appropriate area; E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices (b) Result in high levels of applied agricultural water quality and water conservation activities; (c) Significantly enhance agricultural activity; (d) Allow for monitoring and evaluation by the partner; (e) Assist agricultural producers in meeting a regulatory requirement that reduces the economic scope of the producer’s operation; and (f) Achieve the project’s land and water treatment objectives within 5 years or less. For proposals from States with water quantity concerns, the Chief will give higher priority to projects from States where the proposal will: (a) Include conservation practices that support the conversion of agricultural land from irrigated farming to dryland farming; (b) Leverage Federal funds provided under the program with funds provided by partners; and (c) Assist producers in States with high priority water quantity concerns, as determined by the Chief. The high priority areas are located in the following regions: Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, Everglades, Ogallala Aquifer, Puget Sound, Sacramento River Basin, Red River, and Upper Mississippi River Basin. The Chief may include other factors and criteria which help identify those proposals which best achieve the purposes of AWEP. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Partnership Agreements Upon selection and approval by the Chief, the agency will enter into a partnership agreement with the partner. The partnership agreement will not obligate funds, but will address: (a) Agricultural water enhancement activities anticipated to be addressed and conservation practices to be implemented; (b) The role of NRCS; (c) The responsibilities of the partner related to the monitoring and evaluation of project performance; (d) The frequency and duration of the monitoring and evaluation of project performance; (e) The content and format of the final project performance report that is required as a condition of the agreement; (f) The specified project schedule and timeframe; and (g) Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to achieve the purposes of AWEP. Once the Chief or designee has entered into a partnership agreement, NRCS may enter into contracts directly with eligible agricultural producers VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 participating in the project and located in the approved geographic area. Participating producers must meet all EQIP eligibility requirements (7 CFR 1466.8). Waiver Authority To assist in the implementation of agricultural water enhancement activities under the program, the Chief may waive the applicability of the Adjusted Gross Income Limitation, on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with policy and processes promulgated in 7 CFR part 1400. Such waiver requests must be submitted in writing from the program applicant, addressed to the Chief, and submitted through the local NRCS designated conservationist. Signed March 29, 2010, in Washington, DC. Dave White, Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation and Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Attachment State Conservationists AL—William E. Puckett, 3381 Skyway Drive, P.O. Box 311, Auburn, Alabama 36830, Phone: 334/887– 4500, Fax: 334/887–4552, (V) 9027– 4557, (E) william.puckett@al.usda.gov. AK—Robert Jones, 800 West Evergreen, Atrium Building, Suite 100, Palmer, Alaska 99645–6539, Phone: 907/761– 7760, Fax: 907/761–7790, (V) 9035– 2227, (E) robert.jones@ak.nrcs.usda.gov. AZ—David L. McKay, 230 North First Avenue, Suite 509, Phoenix, Arizona 85003–1706, Phone: 602/280–8801, Fax: 602/280–8809 or 8805, (V) 9011– 8810, (E) david.mckay@az.nrcs.usda.gov. AR—Michael E. Sullivan, Federal Building, Room 3416, 700 West Capitol Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201–3228, Phone: 501/301–3100, Fax: 501/301–3194, (V) 9044–3110, (E) michael.sullivan@ar.usda.gov. CA—Lincoln E. (Ed) Burton, 430 G Street, Suite 4164, Davis, California 95616–4164, Phone: 530/792–5600, Fax: 530/792–5790, (V) 9040–5601, (E) ed.burton@ca.usda.gov. CO—Allen Green, 655 Parfet Street, Room E200C, Lakewood, Colorado 80215–5521, Phone: 720–544–2810, Fax: 720–544–2965, (V) 9059–2802, (E) allen.green@co.usda.gov. CT—Douglas Zehner, 344 Merrow Road, Suite A, Tolland, Connecticut 06084, Phone: 860/871–4011, Fax: 860/871– 4054, (V) 9013–114, (E) douglas.zehner@ct.usda.gov. DE—Russell Morgan, 1221 College Park Drive, Suite 100, Dover, Delaware PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 16727 19904–8713, Phone: 302/678–4160, Fax: 302/678–0843, (V) 9060–199, (E) russell.morgan@de.usda.gov. FL—Carlos Suarez, 2614 N.W. 43rd Street, Gainesville, Florida 32606– 6611 or P.O. Box 141510, Gainesville, FL 32614, Phone: 352/338–9500, Fax: 352/338–9574, (V) 9012–3501, (E) carlos.suarez@fl.usda.gov. GA—James Tillman, Federal Building, Stop 200, 355 East Hancock Avenue, Athens, Georgia 30601–2769, Phone: 706/546–2272, Fax: 706/546–2120, (V) 9021–2082, (E) james.tillman@ga.usda.gov. GU—Lawrence T. Yamamoto, Director, Pacific Basin Area, FHB Building, Suite 301, 400 Route 8, Mongmong, Guam 96910, Phone: 671/472–7490, Fax: 671/472–7288, (V) 9000–822– 1265, (E) larry.yamamoto@pb.usda.gov. HI—Lawrence T. Yamamoto, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 4–118, P.O. Box 50004, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850–0002, Phone: 808/541–2600 x107, Fax: 808/ 541–1335, (V) 9042–108, (E) larry.yamamoto@hi.nrcs.usda.gov. ID—Jeffrey B. Burwell, 9173 West Barnes Drive, Suite C, Boise, Idaho 83709, Phone: 208/378–5700, Fax: 208/378–5735, (V) 9000–291–4551, (E) jeffrey.burwell@id.usda.gov. IL—William J. Gradle, 2118 W. Park Court, Champaign, Illinois 61821, Phone: 217/353–6601, Fax: 217/353– 6676, (V) 9057–6601, (E) bill.gradle@il.usda.gov. IN—Jane E. Hardisty, 6013 Lakeside Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana 46278– 2933, Phone: 317/290–3200, Fax: 317/ 290–3225, (V) 9029–301, (E) jane.hardisty@in.usda.gov. IA—Richard Sims, 693 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Suite 693, Des Moines, Iowa 50309–2180, Phone: 515/284–6655, Fax: 515/284– 4394, (V) 9000–945–1065, (E) richard.sims@ia.usda.gov. KS—Kasey Taylor, Acting, Eric B. Banks, 760 South Broadway, Salina, Kansas 67401–4642, Phone: 785/823– 4565, Fax: 785/452–3369, (V) 9000– 345–8770, (E) eric.banks@ks.usda.gov. KY—Tom Perrin, 771 Corporate Drive, Suite 110, Lexington, Kentucky 40503–5479, Phone: 859/224–7350, Fax: 859/224–7399, (V) 9032–7390, (E) tom.perrin@ky.usda.gov. LA—Kevin D. Norton, 3737 Government Street, Alexandria, Louisiana 71302, Phone: 318/473–7751, Fax: 318/473– 7626, (V) 9000–965–1635, (E) kevin.norton@la.usda.gov. ME—Juan Hernandez, 967 Illinois Avenue, Suite #3, Bangor, Maine 04401, Phone: 207/990–9100, ext. #3, Fax: 207/990–9599, (V) 9000–757– E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1 mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES 16728 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 63 / Friday, April 2, 2010 / Notices 1028, (E) juan.hermandez@me.usda.gov. MD—Jon F. Hall, John Hanson Business Center, 339 Busch’s Frontage Road, Suite 301, Annapolis, Maryland 21401–5534, Phone: 410/757–0861 x315, Fax: 410/757–0687, (V) 9053– 315, (E) jon.hall@md.usda.gov. MA—Christine Clarke, 451 West Street, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002–2995, Phone: 413/253–4351, Fax: 413/253– 4375, (V) 9047–4352, (E) Christine.clarke@ma.usda.gov. MI—Garry D. Lee, 3001 Coolidge Road, Suite 250, East Lansing, Michigan 48823–6350, Phone: 517/324–5270, Fax: 517/324–5171, (V) 9048–5277, (E) garry.lee@mi.usda.gov. MN—Jennifer Heglund, Acting, 375 Jackson Street, Suite 600, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101–1854, Phone: 651/ 602–7900, Fax: 651/602–7913 or 7914, (V) 9041–7854, (E) Jennifer.heglund@mn.usda.gov. MS—Homer Wilkes, Suite 1321, Federal Building, 100 West Capitol Street, Jackson, Mississippi 39269–1399, Phone: 601/965–5205, Fax: 601/965– 4940, (V) 9000–965–2065, (E) homer.wilkes@ms.nrcs.usda.gov. MO—J.R. Flores, Parkade Center, Suite 250, 601 Business Loop 70 West, Columbia, Missouri 65203–2546, Phone: 573/876–0901, Fax: 573/876– 9439, (V) 9034–1367, (E) jr.flores@mo.usda.gov. MT—Joyce Swartzendruber, Federal Building, Room 443, 10 East Babcock Street, Bozeman, Montana 59715– 4704, Phone: 406/587–6813, Fax: 406/ 587–6761, (V) 9056–6813, (E) joyce.swartzendruber@mt.usda.gov. NE—Stephen K. Chick, Federal Building, Room 152, 100 Centennial Mall, North, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508–3866, Phone: 402/437–5300, Fax: 402/437–5327, (V) 9026–4103, (E) steve.chick@ne.usda.gov. NV—Bruce Petersen, 5301 Longley Lane, Building F, Suite 201, Reno, Nevada 89511–1805, Phone: 775/857– 8500, Fax: 775/857–8524, (V) 9000– 784–1390, (E) bruce.petersen@nv.usda.gov. NH—George Cleek, Federal Building, 2 Madbury Road, Durham, New Hampshire 03824–2043, Phone: 603/ 868–7581 ext. 125, Fax: 603/868– 5301, (V) 9000–868–8035, (E) george.cleek@nh.usda.gov. NJ—Thomas Drewes, 220 Davidson Avenue, Somerset, New Jersey 08873, Phone: 732/537–6040, Fax: 732/537– 6095, (V) 9000–767–1000, (E) tom.drewes@nj.usda.gov. NM—Dennis L. Alexander, 6200 Jefferson Street, N.E., Suite 305, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109– 3734, Phone: 505/761–4402 (Rita), VerDate Nov<24>2008 16:40 Apr 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 Fax: 505/761–4481, (V) 9016–4401, (E) dennis.alexander@nm.usda.gov. NY—Astor Boozer, 441 South Salina Street, Suite 354, Syracuse, New York 13202–2450, Phone: 315/477–6504, Fax: 315/477–6550, (V) 9015–6501, (E) astor.boozer@ny.usda.gov. NC—J. B. Martin, Acting, 4405 Bland Road, Suite 205, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609–6293, Phone: 919/ 873–2102, Fax: 919/873–2156, (V) 9025–2101, (E) JB.martin@nc.usda.gov. ND—Paul Sweeney, 220 E. Rosser Avenue, Room 278, P.O. Box 1458, Bismarck, North Dakota 58502–1458, Phone: 701/530–2000, Fax: 701/530– 2110, (V) 9051–2003, (E) paul.sweeney@nd.usda.gov. OH—Terry J. Cosby, 200 North High Street, Room 522, Columbus, Ohio 43215–2478, Phone: 614/255–2472, Fax: 614/255–2548, (V) 9000–881– 1870, (E) terry.cosby@oh.usda.gov. OK—Ronald L. Hilliard, 100 USDA, Suite 206, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74074–2655, Phone: 405/742–1204, Fax: 405/742–1126, (V) 9037–1280, (E) ron.hillard@ok.usda.gov. OR—Ron Alvarado, 101 SW Main Street, Suite 1300, Portland, Oregon 97204–3221, Phone: 503/414–3200, Fax: 503/414–3103, (V) 9019–3201, (E) ron.alvarado@or.usda.gov. PA—Dave Brown, Acting, 1 Credit Union Place, Suite 340, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110–2993, Phone: 717/237–2203, Fax: 717/237–2238, (V) 9039–2203, (E) dave.brown@pa.usda.gov. PR—Angel Figueroa, Acting, Director, Caribbean Area, IBM Building, Suite 604, 654 Munoz Rivera Avenue, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 00918–4123, Phone: 787/766–5206, ext. 237, Fax: 787/ 766–5987, (V) 9000–769–1030, (E) angel.figueroa@wdc.usda.gov. RI—Richard ‘‘Pooh’’ Vongkhamdy, 60 Quaker Lane, Suite 46, Warwick, Rhode Island 02886–0111, Phone: 401/828–1300, Fax: 401/828–0433, (V) 9023–115, (E) pooh.vongkhamdy@ri.usda.gov. SC—Keisha Brown, Acting, Strom Thurmond Federal Building, 1835 Assembly Street, Room 950, Columbia, South Carolina 29201– 2489, Phone: 803/253–3935, Fax: 803/ 253–3670, (V) 9031–3940, (E) Keisha.brown@sc.usda.gov. SD—Janet L. Oertly, Federal Building, Room 203, 200 Fourth Street, S.W., Huron, South Dakota 57350–2475, Phone: 605/352–1200, Fax: 605/352– 1288, (V) 9036–1201, (E) janet.oertly@sd.usda.gov. TN—Kevin Brown, 675 U.S. Courthouse, 801 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee 37203–3878, Phone: 615/ PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 277–2531, Fax: 615/277–2578, (V) 90 58–2530, (E) kevin.brown@tn.usda.gov. TX—Donald W. Gohmert, W.R. Poage Federal Building, 10l South Main Street, Temple, Texas 76501–7602, Phone: 254/742–9800, Fax: 254/742– 9819, (V) 9038–9803, (E) don.gohmert@tx.usda.gov. UT—Sylvia A. Gillen, W.F. Bennett Federal Building, 125 South State Street, Room 4402, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111, Phone: 801/524–4555, Fax: 801/524–4403, (V) 9000–625– 1550, (E) sylvia.gillen@ut.usda.gov. VT—Judith M. Doerner, 356 Mountain View Drive, Suite 105, Colchester, Vermont 05446, Phone: 802/951– 6795, Fax: 802/951–6327, (V) 9000– 768–1240, (E) judy.doener@vt.usda.gov. VA—Vicky Drew, Acting, Jack Bricker, Culpeper Building, Suite 209, 1606 Santa Rosa Road, Richmond, Virginia 23229–5014, Phone: 804/287–1691, Fax: 804/287–1737, (V) 9003–1682, (E) jack.bricker@va.usda.gov. WA—Roylene Rides at the Door, Rock Pointe Tower II, W. 316 Boone Avenue, Suite 450, Spokane, Washington 99201–2348, Phone: 509/ 323–2900, Fax: 509/323–2909, (V) 9035–2901, (E) door@wa.usda.gov. WV—Kevin Wickey, 75 High Street, Room 301, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505, Phone: 304/284–7540, Fax: 304/284–4839, (V) 9049–7542, (E) kevin.wickey@wv.usda.gov. WI—Patricia Leavenworth, 8030 Excelsior Drive, Suite 200, Madison, Wisconsin 53717, Phone: 608/662– 4422, Fax: 608/662–4430, (V) 9018– 222, (E) pat.leavenworth@wi.usda.gov. WY—J. Xavier Montoya, Federal Building, Room 3124, 100 East B Street, Casper, Wyoming 82601–1911, Phone: 307/233–6750, Fax: 307/233– 6753, (V) 9000–951–1015, (E) Xavier.montoya@wy.usda.gov. [FR Doc. 2010–7515 Filed 4–1–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–16–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Beaver Creek Landscape Management Project, Ashland Ranger District, Custer National Forest; Powder River County, MT Forest Service, USDA. Notice; intent to prepare environmental impact statement. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: The Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to disclose the effects of E:\FR\FM\02APN1.SGM 02APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 63 (Friday, April 2, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 16719-16728]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-7515]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Commodity Credit Corporation


Agricultural Water Enhancement Program

AGENCY: Commodity Credit Corporation and Natural Resources Conservation 
Service, Department of Agriculture.

ACTION: Notice of request for proposals.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Section 2510 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 
(2008 Act) established the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program 
(AWEP) by amending section 1240I of the Food

[[Page 16720]]

Security Act of 1985. The Secretary of Agriculture delegated the 
authority for AWEP to the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation 
Service (NRCS), who is Vice President of the Commodity Credit 
Corporation (CCC). NRCS is an agency of the Department of Agriculture 
(USDA). Effective upon publication of this notice, NRCS announces the 
availability of approximately $20.7 million in AWEP financial 
assistance during fiscal year (FY) 2010 to support new AWEP projects. 
The AWEP is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides financial 
and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement 
agricultural water enhancement activities on agricultural land for the 
purposes of conserving surface and ground water and improving water 
quality. As part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program 
(EQIP), AWEP operates through program contracts with producers to plan 
and implement conservation practices in project areas established 
through partnership agreements. The purpose of this notice is to inform 
agricultural producers of the potential availability of program funds 
and to solicit proposals from potential partners seeking partnership 
agreements with the Chief to promote the conservation of ground and 
surface water and the improvement of water quality. This is not a grant 
program to partners, and all Federal funding offered through this 
authority will be paid directly to agricultural producers through 
individual contract agreements.

DATES: Effective Date: The notice of request is effective April 2, 
2010.
    Eligible partners may submit proposals by mail or via courier.
     By mail: proposals must be postmarked May 17, 2010.
     By courier: proposals must be delivered May 17, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Written proposals should be submitted to the addresses 
identified below, with copies to the appropriate NRCS State 
Conservationist whose names and addresses are identified as an 
attachment to this notice. If a project is multi-State in scope, 
potential partners must send each State Conservationist in the proposed 
project areas the proposal for review.
     By mail: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial 
Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, ``AWEP Proposal,'' 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Room 5239 South Building, Washington, DC 20250. (Note: 
Registered or Certified Mail to a Post Office will not be accepted.)
     By courier: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial 
Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, ``AWEP Proposal,'' 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Room 5239 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, Telephone: 
(202) 720-1845. Proposals will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Please ask the guard at 
the entrance to the South Building to call (202) 720-1845.

    Note: Proposals submitted via fax, e-mail, or after the deadline 
date listed in this notice will not be considered.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, 
Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, 
Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., 
Room 5239 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, Telephone: (202) 720-
1845; Fax: (202) 720-4265; or E-mail: AWEP@wdc.usda.gov. Additional 
information regarding AWEP is available at the following NRCS Web page: 
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/AWEP/.
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for 
communication (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact 
the USDA TARGET Center at: (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice includes significant additions 
from the 2009 notice issued last fiscal year. The basic authority, 
procedures, and program requirements have not changed. Partners who 
responded to the 2009 notice reported difficulty in understanding where 
and how to apply, confusion about administration and purpose of the new 
AWEP authority and requirements of partners, misunderstanding that AWEP 
was not a grant program for partners, lack of knowledge about NRCS 
resource concerns and conservation practices that needed to be 
addressed through the partnership, frustration in NRCS terminology used 
in the notices, and other similar concerns. As the result of these 
concerns, the agency conducted an internal examination of AWEP to 
better clarify the program and requirements for proposal submission. In 
addition to the internal review, the agency also invited suggestions 
from legislators, producers, and other organizations with an interest 
in AWEP. As a result of the review, this notice includes more 
explanation of the program, added definitions, clarification of the 
requirements and criteria to be addressed in the proposal, links to 
resources to help partners apply, and other general improvements. The 
requirements for submission of the proposal are not significantly 
different from 2009, and pose no additional burden or workload.

Availability of Funding

    Effective upon publication of this notice, NRCS announces the 
availability of approximately $20.7 million in AWEP financial 
assistance during FY 2010 to support new AWEP projects. NRCS will 
implement AWEP by entering into partnership agreements with eligible 
entities to conserve ground and surface water or improve water quality, 
or both, through a regional approach. Eligible partners must submit 
complete proposals, as described in this notice, to Gregory K. Johnson, 
Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division. Proposals are 
submitted by eligible partners, and project evaluation will be based 
upon a competitive process and the criteria established in this notice. 
Once the Chief approves a partner's proposal and announces selection, 
agricultural producers within the project area may submit an AWEP 
application directly to their local NRCS office. Only specific kinds of 
entities are eligible to submit a proposal and enter into partnership 
agreements with NRCS; these include federally recognized Indian tribes, 
State and local units of government, agricultural or silvicultural 
associations, and other groups of producers such as an irrigation 
association, agricultural land trust, or other nongovernmental 
organization that has experience working with agricultural producers. 
Nongovernmental organizations are entities as defined by the Internal 
Revenue Service and as cited in the definitions section of this notice. 
This is not a grant program, and all Federal funds made available 
through this request for proposals will be paid directly to producers 
through program contract agreements. Individual agricultural producers 
are not AWEP eligible entities and may not submit AWEP proposals, nor 
may they apply for program benefits through this proposal submission 
process; however, once an AWEP project area has been approved and 
announced, individual producers may apply for program benefits through 
their local NRCS office. No Federal AWEP funding may be used to cover 
administrative expenses of partners. Administrative activities include 
any indirect or direct costs relating to submitting or implementing the 
project proposal.

[[Page 16721]]

Definitions

    Activities means conservation systems, practices, or management 
measures needed to address a resource concern or improve environmental 
quality through the treatment of natural resources, and includes 
structural, vegetative, and management practices, as well as the 
activity for development of conservation plans, as determined by NRCS. 
Activities may also include actions associated with an agricultural 
operation or other activities conducted by an AWEP partner which may or 
may not be associated with an NRCS conservation practice or program 
support.
    Agricultural land means cropland, grassland, rangeland, pasture, 
and other agricultural land on which agricultural and forest-related 
products or livestock are produced and resource concerns may be 
addressed. Other agricultural lands may include cropped woodland, 
marshes, incidental areas included in the agricultural operation, and 
other types of agricultural land used for production of livestock.
    Agricultural water enhancement activity means the following, 
conducted in accordance with State water law:
    (a) Water quality or water conservation plan development, including 
resource condition assessment and modeling;
    (b) Water conservation restoration or enhancement projects, 
including the conversion to the production of less water-intensive 
agricultural commodities or dryland farming;
    (c) Water quality or quantity restoration or enhancement projects;
    (d) Irrigation system improvement and irrigation efficiency 
enhancements;
    (e) Activities designed to mitigate the effects of drought, (e.g., 
construction, improvement, or maintenance of irrigation ponds, small 
on-farm reservoirs, or other agricultural water impoundment structures 
that are designed to capture surface water runoff); and
    (f) Related activities that the Chief determines will help achieve 
water quality or water conservation benefits on agricultural land.

    Note: Not all listed activities are currently supported by NRCS 
practice standards or funded through NRCS programs.

    Applicant means a person, legal entity, joint operation, or tribe 
that has an interest in an agricultural or forestry operation, as 
defined in 7 CFR part 1400, who has requested to participate in AWEP.
    Beginning Farmer or Rancher means a person or legal entity who:
    (a) Has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or 
ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years. This requirement applies 
to all members of an entity who will materially and substantially 
participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.
    (b) In the case of a contract with an individual, individually, or 
with the immediate family, material and substantial participation 
requires that the individual provide substantial day-to-day labor and 
management of the farm or ranch consistent with the practices in the 
county or State where the farm is located.
    (c) In the case of a contract with an entity or joint operation, 
all members must materially and substantially participate in the 
operation of the farm or ranch. Material and substantial participation 
requires that each of the members provide some amount of the management 
or labor and management necessary for day-to-day activities, such that 
if each of the members did not provide these inputs, operation of the 
farm or ranch would be seriously impaired.
    Chief means Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or 
designee.
    Conservation Activity Plan means a resource-specific conservation 
plan prepared by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) as 
authorized by the 2008 Act for financial assistance payment through 
EQIP for eligible land of the producer.
    Conservation planning means using the planning process outlined in 
the NRCS National Planning Procedures Handbook (NPPH). The NPPH is 
available at: http://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/.
    Conservation practice means one or more conservation improvements 
and planning activities, including structural practices, land 
management practices, vegetative practices, forest management 
practices, and other improvements that are planned and applied 
according to standards and specifications contained in the NRCS Field 
Office Technical Guide (FOTG). Conservation practices and activities 
funded through AWEP are subject to requirements of EQIP regulation (7 
CFR 1466.10) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip). Only EQIP may 
provide financial assistance for support of the activity of 
conservation planning.
    Conservation system means a combination of conservation practices 
and management measures used to address natural resource and 
environmental concerns in a comprehensive, holistic, and integrated 
manner.
    Contract as defined in the EQIP regulation means a legal document 
that specifies the rights and obligations of any participant accepted 
to participate in the AWEP program. An AWEP contract is a binding 
agreement for the transfer of assistance from the Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) to the participant to share in the costs of applying 
conservation practices. Contracts funded through AWEP are subject to 
requirements of EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.21) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip).
    Designated Conservationist means an NRCS employee whom the State 
Conservationist has designated as responsible for administration of 
NRCS programs at the local level.
    Environmental Quality Incentives Program means a program 
administered by NRCS in accordance with 7 CFR part 1466 (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip), which provides technical and 
financial assistance to eligible producers for the installation and 
implementation of conservation practices and activities on private 
agricultural and nonindustrial forest land.
    Exceptional Drought (D-4) means, as defined by the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, exceptional widespread crop/pasture 
losses; exceptional fire risk; and shortages of water in reservoirs, 
streams, and wells creating water emergencies.
    Field Office Technical Guide means the official local NRCS source 
of resource information, conservation practice standards, 
specifications, and interpretation of guidelines, criteria, and 
requirements for planning and applying conservation practices, 
activities, and conservation management systems. It contains natural 
resource quality criteria to be achieved to provide for the 
conservation and sustainability of soil, water, air, plant, and animal 
resources applicable to the geographic area where resource concerns are 
addressed. The FOTG can be accessed online at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/.
    Financial Assistance means a payment made to the program 
participant.
    Forest management plan means a site-specific plan that is prepared 
by a professional resource manager, in consultation with the 
participant, and is approved by the State Conservationist. Forest 
management plans may include a forest stewardship plan, as specified in 
section 5 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 
2103a); another practice plan approved by the State Forester; or 
another plan determined appropriate by the State

[[Page 16722]]

Conservationist. The plan must comply with Federal, State, tribal, and 
local laws, regulations, and permit requirements.
    Indian land is an inclusive term describing all lands held in trust 
by the United States for individual Indians or tribes, or all lands, 
titles to which are held by individual Indians or tribes, subject to 
Federal restrictions against alienation or encumbrance, or all lands 
that are subject to the rights of use, occupancy, or benefit of certain 
tribes. For purposes of this notice, the term Indian land also includes 
land for which the title is held in fee status by Indian tribes and the 
United States Government owned land under the Bureau of Indian Affairs 
jurisdiction.
    Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other 
organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or 
regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant 
to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) 
that is federally recognized as eligible for the special programs and 
services provided by the United States to Indians because of their 
status as Indians.
    Joint Agreement means a business arrangement where two or more 
participants cooperate to carry out conservation practices that can 
best be accomplished by combining resources. Such agreements must be 
formally documented and signed by all applicable parties.
    Joint Operation means a general partnership, joint venture, or 
other similar business arrangement in which the members are jointly and 
severally liable for the obligations of the organization.
    Limited Resource Farmer or Rancher means:
    (a) A person with direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than 
$155,200 in each of the previous 2 years (adjusted for inflation using 
Prices Paid by Farmer Index as compiled by the National Agricultural 
Statistical Service); and
    (b) Has a total household income at or below the national poverty 
level for a family of four, or less than 50 percent of county median 
household income in each of the previous 2 years (to be determined 
annually using Department of Commerce data).
    Local working group means the advisory body pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 
3861 and described in 7 CFR part 610. Information regarding these 
groups can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/StateTech/.
    Nongovernmental organization is any legal entity that is organized 
for, and at all times since, the formation of the organization has been 
operated principally for one or more of the conservation purposes 
specified in clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of section 170(h)(4)(A) 
of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; is an organization described in 
section 501(c)(3) or that is described in section 509(a)(2) of that 
Code; or is described in section 509(a)(3) of that Code and is 
controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of that 
Code.
    Nonindustrial private forest land means rural land, as determined 
by the Secretary, that has existing tree cover or is suitable for 
growing trees and is owned by any nonindustrial private individual, 
group, association, corporation, Indian tribe, or other private legal 
entity that has definitive decisionmaking authority over the land.
    Participant means a person, legal entity, joint operation, or tribe 
that is receiving payment or is responsible for implementing the terms 
and conditions of an EQIP contract.
    Partner means an entity that enters into a partnership agreement 
with NRCS to carry out the approved AWEP project. Eligible partners 
include federally recognized Indian tribes, State and local units of 
government, agricultural or silvicultural associations, or other such 
groups of agricultural producers. Note: Individual agricultural 
producers are not partners under provisions of AWEP and are not 
eligible to submit proposals as outlined in this notice.
    Partner applicant means an eligible entity that enters into a 
partnership agreement with NRCS to carry out the approved AWEP project.
    Partnership agreement means a multi-year agreement between NRCS and 
the partner. The AWEP partnership agreement describes the activities 
and resources, such as technical or financial assistance, that may be 
provided by NRCS and the partner to help producers meet the objectives 
of AWEP in an approved project area. The AWEP partnership agreement 
does not transfer financial or technical assistance funding to a 
partner, nor provide for the administrative expenses of the partner. 
Individual producers may not enter into partnership agreements under 
AWEP authority.
    Payment means financial assistance provided to a contract 
participant under the terms of the program contract. The payment is 
based upon the estimated costs incurred for performing or implementing 
conservation practices and activities, including costs for planning, 
materials, equipment, labor, design and installation, maintenance, 
management, or training, as well as the estimated income foregone by 
the producer for designated conservation practices. AWEP payments are 
only made to eligible agricultural producers through program contracts. 
Payments and payment rates are established by program rule. Payments 
are only provided to assist with implementation of approved 
conservation practices and activities listed in the FOTG and must meet 
other requirements of EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.23-24) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip).
    Priority resource concern means a resource concern that is 
identified by the State Conservationist, with advice from the State 
Technical Committee and local work groups, as a priority for a State or 
the specific geographic areas within a State.
    Producer means a person, legal entity, or joint operation who has 
an interest in the agricultural operation, according to 7 CFR part 
1400, or who is engaged in agricultural production or forestry 
management.
    Projects of Special Environmental Significance means projects, as 
defined in 7 CFR 1466(d) and approved by the Chief, which meet the 
following criteria:
    (a) Site-specific evaluations have been completed, documenting that 
the project will have substantial positive impacts on critical 
resources in or near the project area (e.g., impaired water bodies or 
at-risk species);
    (b) The project clearly addresses a national priority and State, 
tribal, or local priorities, as applicable; and
    (c) The project assists the participant in complying with Federal, 
State, and local regulatory requirements.
    Rangeland means land on which the historic climax plant community 
is predominantly grasses, grass-like plants, forbs, or shrubs, and 
includes lands revegetated naturally or artificially when routine 
management of that vegetation is accomplished mainly through 
manipulation of grazing. Rangelands include natural grasslands, 
savannas, shrublands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal 
marshes, and wet meadows.
    Resource concern means a specific natural resource problem that 
represents a significant concern in a State or region, and is likely to 
be addressed successfully through the implementation of conservation 
activities by producers. The two natural resource concerns that may be 
addressed through AWEP are water conservation or water quality and 
include the following sub categories:
    Water Quantity (Water Conservation):
     Aquifer Overdraft
     Excessive Runoff, Flooding, or Ponding
     Excessive Seepage
     Excessive Subsurface Water

[[Page 16723]]

     Inadequate Outlets
     Inefficient Water Use on Irrigated Land
     Inefficient Water Use on Nonirrigated Land
     Insufficient Flows in Water Courses
     Rangeland Hydrologic Cycle
     Reduced Capacity of Conveyances by Sediment Deposition
     Reduced Storage of Water Bodies by Sediment Accumulation
    Water Quality:
     Excessive Nutrients and Organics in Groundwater
     Excessive Nutrients and Organics in Surface Water
     Excessive Salinity in Groundwater
     Excessive Salinity in Surface Water
     Excessive Suspended Sediment and Turbidity in Surface 
Water
     Harmful Levels of Pathogens in Groundwater
     Harmful Levels of Pathogens in Surface Water
     Harmful Levels of Pesticides in Groundwater
     Harmful Levels of Pesticides in Surface Water
     Harmful Temperatures of Surface Water
    Resource concerns used by NRCS are found in section III of each 
State or local FOTG which can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/.
    Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher means a farmer or rancher 
who has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices because of their 
identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual 
qualities. Those groups include African Americans, American Indians or 
Alaskan natives, Hispanics, Asians, and native Hawaiians or other 
Pacific Islanders.
    State Conservationist means the NRCS employee who is authorized to 
implement conservation programs administered by NRCS, and who directs 
and supervises NRCS activities in a State, the Caribbean Area, or the 
Pacific Islands Area.
    State Technical Committee means a committee established by the USDA 
Secretary in a State pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 3861 and described in 7 CFR 
part 610. Information regarding these committees can be found at: 
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/StateTech/.
    Technical assistance means technical expertise, information, and 
tools necessary for the conservation of natural resources on land 
active in agricultural, forestry, or related uses. The term includes 
the following: (1) Technical services provided directly to farmers, 
ranchers, and other eligible entities, such as conservation planning, 
technical consultation, and assistance with the design and 
implementation of conservation practices; and (2) technical 
infrastructure including activities, processes, tools, and agency 
functions needed to support delivery of technical services, such as 
technical standards, resource inventories, training, data, technology, 
monitoring, and effects analyses. Information regarding technical 
assistance can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cta/.
    Technical Service Provider means an individual, private-sector 
entity, or public agency certified by NRCS, in accordance with 7 CFR 
part 652, to provide technical services to program participants in lieu 
of or on behalf of NRCS. Information regarding TSP services available 
through AWEP is found in the EQIP regulation (7 CFR 1466.11) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip).

Overview of the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program

Background

    The AWEP is a voluntary conservation program that provides 
financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to 
implement agricultural water enhancement activities using conservation 
practices on eligible land for the purposes of conserving surface and 
ground water and improving water quality. As part of EQIP, AWEP 
operates through contracts with eligible producers to plan and 
implement approved conservation practices and activities to conserve 
ground and surface water and improve water quality in project areas 
established through partnership agreements. Producers located in 
approved AWEP project areas, announced by partners and NRCS, may submit 
an application for program assistance at their local NRCS service 
center or field office. As part of the partnership agreement, approved 
partners may also help facilitate the submission of producers' 
applications, or they may provide additional technical or financial 
assistance to participating agricultural producers, or provide other 
resources as defined in the agreement. A primary intent of AWEP is to 
leverage other non-Federal resources along with NRCS program resources 
to achieve program objectives. Partners are encouraged to include in 
their proposals resources to help producers implement approved 
conservation practices and activities and provisions to address those 
AWEP priority activities that NRCS does not have the authority to 
implement (e.g. resource condition assessment and modeling). The 
partner is not required to provide financial or technical resources 
towards the project (match); however, proposals that include or offer 
partner provided resources will be given higher priority consideration 
in the evaluation process. AWEP financial assistance is delivered 
directly to producers in approved project areas through contract 
agreements. No technical or financial assistance funding may be 
provided to a partner through the AWEP partner agreement. However, if 
requested by a partner, the State Conservationist or Chief may consider 
development of a separate funding agreement with a qualified partner 
for delivery of technical services to producers participating in an 
approved AWEP project.

Submitting Proposals

    Potential partners must submit a complete proposal to Gregory K. 
Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, addressing 
all questions and items listed in the ``Proposal Requirements'' section 
of this notice. The proposal must include sufficient detail to allow 
NRCS to understand the partner's priority resource concerns, 
objectives, and expected outcomes. Incomplete proposals and those that 
do not meet the requirements set forth in this notice will not be 
considered, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the 
applicant. The proposal must also be accompanied by letters of review 
from the appropriate State Conservationists to the Director, Financial 
Assistance Programs Division as specified in this notice. The Chief or 
designee will review, prioritize, and evaluate the proposals based on 
the criteria provided in this notice. State Conservationists will 
provide guidance to potential partners regarding resource concerns that 
may be addressed in the proposed project area, local working group and 
State Technical Committee natural resource priorities, approved 
conservation practices and activities, and other program requirements 
the partner should consider when developing a proposal.

Partner Entity Eligibility

    Potential partner entities that are eligible to participate as 
partners include federally recognized Indian tribes, States and local 
units of government, agricultural or silvicultural associations, or 
other groups of producers, such as an irrigation association, 
agricultural land trust, or other nongovernmental organization that has 
experience working with agricultural producers. Individual

[[Page 16724]]

producers are not eligible to submit proposals under this notice.

Producer Eligibility

    Individual producers are eligible to apply for program benefits as 
part of an approved AWEP project as determined by the requirements of 
this notice and EQIP regulation found in 7 CFR 1466.8 (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip). Producers seeking to participate in 
an approved AWEP project must meet all EQIP program eligibility 
requirements.

Producer Applications and Contracts

    Agricultural producers in approved project areas may apply for 
available AWEP funds at their local USDA service center or NRCS field 
office (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs). Once 
an application is selected, an eligible agricultural producer will 
enter into a contract with NRCS to implement approved conservation 
practices that address the water conservation and water quality 
resource concerns identified in the partnership proposal and agreement. 
Through these contracts, NRCS provides payments to agricultural 
producers for implementing conservation practices that meet the 
agricultural water enhancement activities and goals of the project. The 
term of the contract agreement with a producer will be for a minimum 
duration of one year after completion of the last practice, but not 
more than 10 years.
    In States with water quantity concerns, where the partner proposal 
includes conservation management practices that assist producers with 
the conversion of agricultural land from irrigated farming to dryland 
farming, NRCS may enter into contracts that provide a producer payments 
for applicable practices for up to 5 years as needed to complete the 
conversion when the conversion activity is consistent with State law. 
Conversion activities are supported through AWEP by implementation of 
approved conservation practices.
    An agricultural producer may elect to use a TSP for technical 
assistance associated with conservation planning or practice design and 
implementation. A participant may not receive payments that exceed an 
aggregate of $300,000, directly or indirectly, for all EQIP and AWEP 
contracts, including prior year contracts entered into during any 6-
year period. The Chief may waive this limitation allowing up to 
$450,000 for projects of special environmental significance as defined 
in this notice and EQIP regulation in section Sec.  1466.21(d). All 
agricultural producers receiving assistance through AWEP must meet EQIP 
program eligibility requirements and will be subject to EQIP payment 
limitations and other requirements. Producers applying for AWEP are not 
required to have an existing EQIP contract. However, they must be 
determined eligible for EQIP assistance prior to entering into an AWEP 
contract. Information about limitations and benefits that apply to land 
and agricultural producers enrolled in the AWEP program are found in 
the EQIP authorizing legislation (16 U.S.C. 3839aa) and regulation (7 
CFR part 1466) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip).

Land Eligibility

    The following land is eligible for enrollment in the AWEP through 
program contracts with producers:

 Private agricultural land.
 Indian land.
 Publicly owned land where:
    [cir] The conservation practices to be implemented on the public 
land are necessary and will contribute to an improvement in the 
identified resource concern;
    [cir] The land is a working component of the participant's 
agricultural or forestry operation; and
    [cir] The participant has control of the land for the term of the 
contract.

    For producer contracts that address water conservation and 
irrigation related conservation practices, EQIP regulation requires 
that land must be irrigated 2 of the previous 5 years prior to 
application for assistance (7 CFR 1466.10(d)). AWEP projects that 
include agricultural lands not irrigated for 2 of the previous 5 years, 
the construction, improvement, or maintenance of irrigation ponds, 
small on-farm reservoirs, or other agricultural water impoundment 
structures that are designed to capture surface water runoff, are 
eligible only in an area that is experiencing or has experienced 
exceptional drought conditions between June 18, 2006, and June 18, 
2008. A list of States and counties that are designated exceptional 
drought areas is found on the AWEP Web site at: http:// 
www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep/.
    Additional information regarding land eligibility to meet EQIP 
requirements are found in 7 CFR 1466.8 and available at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip.

Proposal Requirements

    For consideration of a proposal, a potential partner must submit 
five copies of the written proposal and one electronic copy for single-
State or multi-State projects that do not exceed 5 years in length. The 
proposal must be in the following format and contain the information 
set forth below:
    Proposal Format: Five copies of the proposal should be typewritten 
or printed on 8\1/2\'' x 11'' white paper. The text of the application 
should be in a font no smaller than 12-point, with one-inch margins. 
One additional copy of the proposal must be in a format such as 
Microsoft Word or PDF on one CD ROM. If submitting more than one 
proposal, submit a separate proposal for each project. Consult the NRCS 
national AWEP Web site for an example of an acceptable AWEP proposal 
document at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep/. The entire 
proposal may not exceed 12 pages in length including summary, maps, 
reference materials, and related reports.

Proposal Summary

    The basic format for the AWEP proposal is a narrative written 
response to the questions and information requested in this notice. 
There are no forms required or associated with the proposal submission 
process; however, the proposal must include the following:
    (1) Proposal Cover Sheet and Summary: The first two pages of the 
proposal summary must include:
    (a) Project Title.
    (b) Project director/manager name, telephone number, and e-mail 
address.
    (c) Name of lead partner entity submitting proposal and other 
collaborating partners.
    (d) Mailing address and phone numbers for lead partner submitting 
proposal.
    (e) Short general description/summary of project; describe whether 
proposal will address water conservation resource issues, water quality 
resource issues, or both. Identify the specific natural resource 
concerns to be addressed, and describe the approved FOTG conservation 
practices and activities that will be used to address those resource 
concerns, including practices that will be used to help producers in 
the conversion of irrigated farming to dryland farming.
    (f) Specify the geographic location: State(s), County(s), 
congressional district(s), and whether proposal is a multi-State 
proposal or within-State proposal. Include a general location map that 
shows if the location of the project area is within an AWEP national 
priority area, which are:
     Eastern Snake Plains Aquifer.
     Everglades.
     Ogallala Aquifer.

[[Page 16725]]

     Puget Sound.
     Sacramento River Basin.
     Red River.
     Upper Mississippi River Basin.
    Additional information, maps, and a list of States and counties 
located in AWEP priority areas can be found at: http://
www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep/.
    (g) Proposed project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 
5 years).
    (h) Total amount of AWEP financial assistance being requested for 
entire project.
    (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions:
    The proposal must include project objectives that address water 
quality or water quantity resource concerns.
    (a) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource 
concern(s) to be addressed and how the proposals objectives will 
address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, 
achievable, results-oriented, and include a timeline for completion.
    (b) For each objective, identify the actions to be completed to 
achieve the objective and to address the identified natural resource 
concern using AWEP assistance or the actions being addressed using 
alternate non-Federal resources or fund sources.
    (c) Identify the total number of acres that need conservation 
treatment along with the kinds of conservation practices and activities 
needed to treat priority resource concerns in the project area. 
Identify specific priorities within the project area that need to be 
addressed first.
    (d) The proposed agricultural water enhancement activities that may 
be implemented through partner efforts alone and those to be 
implemented using AWEP financial support.
    (3) Partnership Capacity:
    Potential partners must fully describe their project and 
demonstrate their history of working with agricultural producers to 
address water quality and quantity issues. Information provided in the 
proposal must:
    (a) Demonstrate the commitment and experience of the partner to 
accomplish the long-term conservation of surface and ground water or 
water quality improvement and related historical activities that show 
this experience.
    (b) Demonstrate the ability and history of the partner to 
coordinate water quality and quantity efforts among agricultural 
producers.
    (c) Demonstrate the availability of non-Federal matching funds or 
other resources being contributed. A primary intent of AWEP is to 
leverage other non-Federal resources along with NRCS program resources 
to achieve program objectives. The partner is not required to provide 
financial or technical resources towards the project (match); however, 
proposals that include or offer partner provided resources will be 
given higher priority through the evaluation process. The partner needs 
to clearly state, by project objective, how they intend to leverage 
Federal funds along with partner resources to address water quantity or 
water quality resource issues. Note: The funding and time contribution 
by agricultural producers to implement agreed-to conservation practices 
in program contracts may not be considered any part of a match from the 
potential partner for purposes of AWEP. One purpose of AWEP is to 
leverage new resources from partners above and beyond those 
contributions made by individual producers.
    (d) Demonstrate the ability to monitor and evaluate project effects 
on natural resources. Priority will be given to projects where the 
partner can provide resources, services, or conduct activities to 
monitor and evaluate effects of conservation practices and activities 
implemented through the project.
    (e) Provide evidence the partner has the capacity to deliver a 
final project performance report. If a proposal is approved, the 
partnership agreement will provide additional details and requirements 
for reporting performance of the project effort.
    (f) Identify potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize 
and rank agricultural producers' AWEP applications in the project area. 
Potential partners should collaborate with NRCS in the State where the 
project is proposed to develop meaningful criteria that NRCS can use to 
evaluate and rank producer program applications. For approved projects, 
this joint effort will help NRCS select producer applications which 
will best accomplish the projects intended conservation goals and 
address priority resource issues identified by the partner in the 
proposal. Additional information regarding the process NRCS uses to 
evaluate and rank individual producer applications is found in EQIP 
regulation 7 CFR 1466.20. Proposals which include specific ranking 
criteria developed in collaboration with NRCS may receive higher 
consideration in the evaluation process. Additional guidance and 
assistance to develop appropriate criteria may be obtained from the 
State office where the project will be located.
    (g) A description of how the partners and entities will collaborate 
to achieve the project objectives and the roles, responsibilities, and 
capabilities of each partner. Proposals that include resources from 
other than the submitter must include a letter or other documentation 
from the other partner confirming this commitment of resources. 
Proposals that demonstrate efforts to collaborate with other partners 
and producers are likely to provide increased environmental benefits, 
meet the objectives of AWEP, and may receive higher ranking 
consideration in the evaluation process.
    (h) A description of the proposed agricultural water enhancement 
activities and approved NRCS conservation practices and activities to 
be applied within the designated 5-year timeframe allowed for AWEP 
projects and the general sequence of implementation of the project. 
Enhancement activities include efforts undertaken by the partner and 
those that the partner requests NRCS to address through financial 
support to implement eligible approved conservation practices and 
activities. In this section, list all the NRCS conservation practices 
the partner wishes NRCS to offer to producers through the AWEP project. 
Information about NRCS practices can be found in the FOTG at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/ and descriptions of practices at: 
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/standards/. For each conservation 
practice, estimate the extent (feet, acres, number, etc.) the partner 
expects producers to implement each fiscal year during the life of the 
project and the amount of financial assistance requested to support 
implementation of each practice through producer contracts. Provide 
detail if the project will address regulatory compliance and any other 
outcomes the partner expects to complete during the project period.
    (i) A description of the resources (financial or technical 
assistance) requested annually from AWEP for producer contracts and the 
non-Federal resources provided by the partner that will be leveraged by 
the Federal contribution. From the estimated amount of financial 
assistance needed to implement the conservation practices identified in 
the previous section, include the total amount of financial assistance 
funds requested for each fiscal year of the project to be made 
available for producer contracts. If resources other than funding are 
being offered by the partner, describe the kind of resources and 
services that will be made available to producers to help implement 
conservation practices and activities. Note: The funding and time 
contribution by agricultural producers to implement agreed-to 
conservation practices in the program contracts may

[[Page 16726]]

not be considered as part of a match from the potential partner. All 
funding requests and information regarding partner resources may be 
included in the form of a budget narrative. If financial assistance is 
approved and available, these funds must be obligated in individual 
producer contracts that may be from 2 to 10 years in length.
    (4) Lands to be Treated:
    The proposal should describe the geographic area to be covered by 
the partnership agreement. Specifically, the proposal should include:
    (a) A map showing the proposed project area. Describe the location 
and size of the proposed project area. Are the size and scope of the 
project area and proposed practices to address resource concerns 
reasonable and achievable? What kinds of agricultural operations are in 
the project area? Is the project located in a water conservation 
priority area or include any Indian land?
    (b) A description of the agricultural water quality or water 
conservation issues to be addressed by the partnership agreement. 
Provide information about the extent and kinds of water quality issues 
to be addressed such as pollutants, designated priority areas, 
groundwater overdraft, surface water deficiencies, etc.
    (c) A description of the agricultural water enhancement objectives 
to be achieved through the partnership and the NRCS practices expected 
to be implemented. What are the primary objectives to be accomplished 
in the project by the partner and expected environmental improvements 
from producer implementation of AWEP funded conservation practices and 
activities? How will progress toward achieving environmental benefits 
be measured? What kinds of water conservation plans, assessments, or 
modeling will be done to help achieve project objectives or encourage 
practice implementation? Will the project include specific efforts to 
encourage producers to convert irrigated land to less water-intensive 
operations or dryland farming? What percentage of the project area is 
expected to be converted to dryland farming? Will the proposal restore 
or enhance water quantity or quality in the project area or reduce the 
impacts of drought? What kinds of irrigation system improvements will 
be implemented? Will the planned activities significantly solve or 
improve the resource issues being addressed? Describe any activities 
that are innovative or include outcome-based performance measures 
implemented by the partner.
    (d) Include the total acres that need conservation treatment and 
the priority conservation practices and activities that are needed to 
treat significant resource concerns in the project area. Identify 
specific priorities within the project area that need to be addressed 
first.
    (5) Producer Information:
    The partner must identify in the proposal:
    An estimate of the number of eligible agricultural producers the 
partner expects to participate in the project compared with the 
estimated total number of producers in the project area (estimate the 
percentage of participation). Producer participation is a requirement 
for delivery of AWEP program benefits. How will the partner encourage 
participation to guarantee success of the project? Does the project 
include socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, beginning farmers 
or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, or Indian tribes? 
Are there groups of producers who may submit joint program applications 
to address resource issues of common interest and need?
    (6) Proposal Implementation Plan and Schedule:
    Potential partners must submit project action plans and schedules, 
not to exceed 5 years, detailing activities, including timeframes 
related to project milestones and monitoring and evaluation activities 
that will likely be documented in the partnership agreement. A project 
action plan should describe how often the potential partner plans to 
monitor and evaluate the project and how it plans to quantify the 
results or performance of the project for the final project performance 
report. Indicate the practices the partner expects to implement during 
the project timeframe and general sequence of implementation.
    (7) Letter of Review:
    Potential partners must include a copy of the letter showing that 
the written proposal was sent to the appropriate State 
Conservationist(s). If a project is multi-State in scope, all State 
Conservationists in the proposed project area must be sent the proposal 
for review. The State Conservationist(s) will review the proposal to 
address:
    (a) Potential duplication of efforts with other projects or 
existing programs.
    (b) Adherence to, and consistency with, overall EQIP regulation 
including requirements related to land and producer eligibility and use 
of approved NRCS resource concerns and conservation practices and other 
program requirements.
    (c) Expected benefits for project implementation in their State(s).
    (d) Other issues or concerns the State Conservationist is aware of 
that should be considered by the Chief.
    (e) A general recommendation for support or denial of project 
approval.
    State Conservationist(s) must submit letters of review to Gregory 
K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division no later 
than 10 calendar days after the deadline for proposal submission. A 
list of NRCS State Conservationists, addresses, and phone numbers is 
included as an attachment at the end of this notice. Prior to 
submission of the proposal, potential partners are strongly encouraged 
to consult with the appropriate State Conservationist(s) during 
proposal development to obtain guidance as to appropriate resource 
concerns to address needed water quality or water conservation 
enhancements, needed conservation practices and activities, and other 
details of the project proposal. All AWEP proposals become the property 
of NRCS for use in the administration of the program, may be filed or 
disposed of by the agency, and will not be returned to the potential 
partner. Once proposals have been submitted to the agency for review 
and ranking, there will be no further opportunity to change or re-
submit the proposal document.

Acknowledgement of Submission and Notifications

    Partners whose proposals have been selected will receive a letter 
of official notification. Upon notification of selection, the partner 
should contact the State Conservationist listed in the letter to 
develop the required partnership agreement and other project 
implementation requirements. Potential partners should note that 
depending upon available funding, NRCS may offer a reduced amount of 
program financial assistance from what was requested in the proposal. 
Partner submissions of proposals that were not selected will be 
notified by official letter.

Withdrawal of Proposals

    Partner proposals may be withdrawn by written notice to the 
Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division at any time prior to 
selection.

Ranking Considerations

    The Chief or designee will evaluate the proposals using a 
competitive process. Higher priority may be given to proposals that:
    (a) Include high percentages of agricultural land and producers in 
a region or other appropriate area;

[[Page 16727]]

    (b) Result in high levels of applied agricultural water quality and 
water conservation activities;
    (c) Significantly enhance agricultural activity;
    (d) Allow for monitoring and evaluation by the partner;
    (e) Assist agricultural producers in meeting a regulatory 
requirement that reduces the economic scope of the producer's 
operation; and
    (f) Achieve the project's land and water treatment objectives 
within 5 years or less.
    For proposals from States with water quantity concerns, the Chief 
will give higher priority to projects from States where the proposal 
will:
    (a) Include conservation practices that support the conversion of 
agricultural land from irrigated farming to dryland farming;
    (b) Leverage Federal funds provided under the program with funds 
provided by partners; and
    (c) Assist producers in States with high priority water quantity 
concerns, as determined by the Chief. The high priority areas are 
located in the following regions: Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, 
Everglades, Ogallala Aquifer, Puget Sound, Sacramento River Basin, Red 
River, and Upper Mississippi River Basin.
    The Chief may include other factors and criteria which help 
identify those proposals which best achieve the purposes of AWEP.

Partnership Agreements

    Upon selection and approval by the Chief, the agency will enter 
into a partnership agreement with the partner.
    The partnership agreement will not obligate funds, but will 
address:
    (a) Agricultural water enhancement activities anticipated to be 
addressed and conservation practices to be implemented;
    (b) The role of NRCS;
    (c) The responsibilities of the partner related to the monitoring 
and evaluation of project performance;
    (d) The frequency and duration of the monitoring and evaluation of 
project performance;
    (e) The content and format of the final project performance report 
that is required as a condition of the agreement;
    (f) The specified project schedule and timeframe; and
    (g) Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to achieve the 
purposes of AWEP.
    Once the Chief or designee has entered into a partnership 
agreement, NRCS may enter into contracts directly with eligible 
agricultural producers participating in the project and located in the 
approved geographic area. Participating producers must meet all EQIP 
eligibility requirements (7 CFR 1466.8).

Waiver Authority

    To assist in the implementation of agricultural water enhancement 
activities under the program, the Chief may waive the applicability of 
the Adjusted Gross Income Limitation, on a case-by-case basis, in 
accordance with policy and processes promulgated in 7 CFR part 1400. 
Such waiver requests must be submitted in writing from the program 
applicant, addressed to the Chief, and submitted through the local NRCS 
designated conservationist.

    Signed March 29, 2010, in Washington, DC.
Dave White,
Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation and Chief, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service.

Attachment

State Conservationists

AL--William E. Puckett, 3381 Skyway Drive, P.O. Box 311, Auburn, 
Alabama 36830, Phone: 334/887-4500, Fax: 334/887-4552, (V) 9027-4557, 
(E) william.puckett@al.usda.gov.
AK--Robert Jones, 800 West Evergreen, Atrium Building, Suite 100, 
Palmer, Alaska 99645-6539, Phone: 907/761-7760, Fax: 907/761-7790, (V) 
9035-2227, (E) robert.jones@ak.nrcs.usda.gov.
AZ--David L. McKay, 230 North First Avenue, Suite 509, Phoenix, Arizona 
85003-1706, Phone: 602/280-8801, Fax: 602/280-8809 or 8805, (V) 9011-
8810, (E) david.mckay@az.nrcs.usda.gov.
AR--Michael E. Sullivan, Federal Building, Room 3416, 700 West Capitol 
Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-3228, Phone: 501/301-3100, Fax: 
501/301-3194, (V) 9044-3110, (E) michael.sullivan@ar.usda.gov.
CA--Lincoln E. (Ed) Burton, 430 G Street, Suite 4164, Davis, California 
95616-4164, Phone: 530/792-5600, Fax: 530/792-5790, (V) 9040-5601, (E) 
ed.burton@ca.usda.gov.
CO--Allen Green, 655 Parfet Street, Room E200C, Lakewood, Colorado 
80215-5521, Phone: 720-544-2810, Fax: 720-544-2965, (V) 9059-2802, (E) 
allen.green@co.usda.gov.
CT--Douglas Zehner, 344 Merrow Road, Suite A, Tolland, Connecticut 
06084, Phone: 860/871-4011, Fax: 860/871-4054, (V) 9013-114, (E) 
douglas.zehner@ct.usda.gov.
DE--Russell Morgan, 1221 College Park Drive, Suite 100, Dover, Delaware 
19904-8713, Phone: 302/678-4160, Fax: 302/678-0843, (V) 9060-199, (E) 
russell.morgan@de.usda.gov.
FL--Carlos Suarez, 2614 N.W. 43rd Street, Gainesville, Florida 32606-
6611 or P.O. Box 141510, Gainesville, FL 32614, Phone: 352/338-9500, 
Fax: 352/338-9574, (V) 9012-3501, (E) carlos.suarez@fl.usda.gov.
GA--James Tillman, Federal Building, Stop 200, 355 East Hancock Avenue, 
Athens, Georgia 30601-2769, Phone: 706/546-2272, Fax: 706/546-2120, (V) 
9021-2082, (E) james.tillman@ga.usda.gov.
GU--Lawrence T. Yamamoto, Director, Pacific Basin Area, FHB Building, 
Suite 301, 400 Route 8, Mongmong, Guam 96910, Phone: 671/472-7490, Fax: 
671/472-7288, (V) 9000-822-1265, (E) larry.yamamoto@pb.usda.gov.
HI--Lawrence T. Yamamoto, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 4-118, P.O. Box 
50004, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850-0002, Phone: 808/541-2600 x107, Fax: 808/
541-1335, (V) 9042-108, (E) larry.yamamoto@hi.nrcs.usda.gov.
ID--Jeffrey B. Burwell, 9173 West Barnes Drive, Suite C, Boise, Idaho 
83709, Phone: 208/378-5700, Fax: 208/378-5735, (V) 9000-291-4551, (E) 
jeffrey.burwell@id.usda.gov.
IL--William J. Gradle, 2118 W. Park Court, Champaign, Illinois 61821, 
Phone: 217/353-6601, Fax: 217/353-6676, (V) 9057-6601, (E) 
bill.gradle@il.usda.gov.
IN--Jane E. Hardisty, 6013 Lakeside Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana 46278-
2933, Phone: 317/290-3200, Fax: 317/290-3225, (V) 9029-301, (E) 
jane.hardisty@in.usda.gov.
IA--Richard Sims, 693 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Suite 693, 
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2180, Phone: 515/284-6655, Fax: 515/284-4394, 
(V) 9000-945-1065, (E) richard.sims@ia.usda.gov.
KS--Kasey Taylor, Acting, Eric B. Banks, 760 South Broadway, Salina, 
Kansas 67401-4642, Phone: 785/823-4565, Fax: 785/452-3369, (V) 9000-
345-8770, (E) eric.banks@ks.usda.gov.
KY--Tom Perrin, 771 Corporate Drive, Suite 110, Lexington, Kentucky 
40503-5479, Phone: 859/224-7350, Fax: 859/224-7399, (V) 9032-7390, (E) 
tom.perrin@ky.usda.gov.
LA--Kevin D. Norton, 3737 Government Street, Alexandria, Louisiana 
71302, Phone: 318/473-7751, Fax: 318/473-7626, (V) 9000-965-1635, (E) 
kevin.norton@la.usda.gov.
ME--Juan Hernandez, 967 Illinois Avenue, Suite 3, Bangor, 
Maine 04401, Phone: 207/990-9100, ext. 3, Fax: 207/990-9599, 
(V) 9000-757-

[[Page 16728]]

1028, (E) juan.hermandez@me.usda.gov.
MD--Jon F. Hall, John Hanson Business Center, 339 Busch's Frontage 
Road, Suite 301, Annapolis, Maryland 21401-5534, Phone: 410/757-0861 
x315, Fax: 410/757-0687, (V) 9053-315, (E) jon.hall@md.usda.gov.
MA--Christine Clarke, 451 West Street, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-
2995, Phone: 413/253-4351, Fax: 413/253-4375, (V) 9047-4352, (E) 
Christine.clarke@ma.usda.gov.
MI--Garry D. Lee, 3001 Coolidge Road, Suite 250, East Lansing, Michigan 
48823-6350, Phone: 517/324-5270, Fax: 517/324-5171, (V) 9048-5277, (E) 
garry.lee@mi.usda.gov.
MN--Jennifer Heglund, Acting, 375 Jackson Street, Suite 600, St. Paul, 
Minnesota 55101-1854, Phone: 651/602-7900, Fax: 651/602-7913 or 7914, 
(V) 9041-7854, (E) Jennifer.heglund@mn.usda.gov.
MS--Homer Wilkes, Suite 1321, Federal Building, 100 West Capitol 
Street, Jackson, Mississippi 39269-1399, Phone: 601/965-5205, Fax: 601/
965-4940, (V) 9000-965-2065, (E) homer.wilkes@ms.nrcs.usda.gov.
MO--J.R. Flores, Parkade Center, Suite 250, 601 Business Loop 70 West, 
Columbia, Missouri 65203-2546, Phone: 573/876-0901, Fax: 573/876-9439, 
(V) 9034-1367, (E) jr.flores@mo.usda.gov.
MT--Joyce Swartzendruber, Federal Building, Room 443, 10 East Babcock 
Street, Bozeman, Montana 59715-4704, Phone: 406/587-6813, Fax: 406/587-
6761, (V) 9056-6813, (E) joyce.swartzendruber@mt.usda.gov.
NE--Stephen K. Chick, Federal Building, Room 152, 100 Centennial Mall, 
North, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-3866, Phone: 402/437-5300, Fax: 402/437-
5327, (V) 9026-4103, (E) steve.chick@ne.usda.gov.
NV--Bruce Petersen, 5301 Longley Lane, Building F, Suite 201, Reno, 
Nevada 89511-1805, Phone: 775/857-8500, Fax: 775/857-8524, (V) 9000-
784-1390, (E) bruce.petersen@nv.usda.gov.
NH--George Cleek, Federal Building, 2 Madbury Road, Durham, New 
Hampshire 03824-2043, Phone: 603/868-7581 ext. 125, Fax: 603/868-5301, 
(V) 9000-868-8035, (E) george.cleek@nh.usda.gov.
NJ--Thomas Drewes, 220 Davidson Avenue, Somerset, New Jersey 08873, 
Phone: 732/537-6040, Fax: 732/537-6095, (V) 9000-767-1000, (E) 
tom.drewes@nj.usda.gov.
NM--Dennis L. Alexander, 6200 Jefferson Street, N.E., Suite 305, 
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109-3734, Phone: 505/761-4402 (Rita), Fax: 
505/761-4481, (V) 9016-4401, (E) dennis.alexander@nm.usda.gov.
NY--Astor Boozer, 441 South Salina Street, Suite 354, Syracuse, New 
York 13202-2450, Phone: 315/477-6504, Fax: 315/477-6550, (V) 9015-6501, 
(E) astor.boozer@ny.usda.gov.
NC--J. B. Martin, Acting, 4405 Bland Road, Suite 205, Raleigh, North 
Carolina 27609-6293, Phone: 919/873-2102, Fax: 919/873-2156, (V) 9025-
2101, (E) JB.martin@nc.usda.gov.
ND--Paul Sweeney, 220 E. Rosser Avenue, Room 278, P.O. Box 1458, 
Bismarck, North Dakota 58502-1458, Phone: 701/530-2000, Fax: 701/530-
2110, (V) 9051-2003, (E) paul.sweeney@nd.usda.gov.
OH--Terry J. Cosby, 200 North High Street, Room 522, Columbus, Ohio 
43215-2478, Phone: 614/255-2472, Fax: 614/255-2548, (V) 9000-881-1870, 
(E) terry.cosby@oh.usda.gov.
OK--Ronald L. Hilliard, 100 USDA, Suite 206, Stillwater, Oklahoma 
74074-2655, Phone: 405/742-1204, Fax: 405/742-1126, (V) 9037-1280, (E) 
ron.hillard@ok.usda.gov.
OR--Ron Alvarado, 101 SW Main Street, Suite 1300, Portland, Oregon 
97204-3221, Phone: 503/414-3200, Fax: 503/414-3103, (V) 9019-3201, (E) 
ron.alvarado@or.usda.gov.
PA--Dave Brown, Acting, 1 Credit Union Place, Suite 340, Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania 17110-2993, Phone: 717/237-2203, Fax: 717/237-2238, (V) 
9039-2203, (E) dave.brown@pa.usda.gov.
PR--Angel Figueroa, Acting, Director, Caribbean Area, IBM Building, 
Suite 604, 654 Munoz Rivera Avenue, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 00918-4123, 
Phone: 787/766-5206, ext. 237, Fax: 787/766-5987, (V) 9000-769-1030,