Morgantown, WV - The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) announce a ranking period for the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). All applications for the rental enrollment option submitted to either agency by close of business on June 15, 2012 will be considered for funding.

The purpose of the GRP is to provide assistance to landowners and operators to protect grazing uses and related conservation values on eligible private range and pasture lands. The program emphasizes support of grazing operations, maintaining and improving plant and animal biodiversity, and protecting grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Grasslands provide both ecological and economic benefits. The importance of grasslands lies not only in the areas they cover, but also in the diversity of environmental benefits they produce. The lands provide forage for livestock, water for urban and rural uses, flood protection, wildlife habitat, purification of air, and carbon sequestration. The lands also provide aesthetic values and open space.

Participants voluntarily limit future development and cropping uses of the land while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices and operations related to the production of forage and seeding, subject to certain restrictions during nesting seasons of bird species that are in significant decline or are protected under Federal or State law.

The NRCS and FSA encourage landowners who are interested in the GRP to contact their local USDA Service Center today. Additional information on GRP and other conservation programs is available on the Web at whatever or www.fsa.usda.gov  NRCS and FSA have Service Centers throughout the state to help landowners with the application process. The NRCS and FSA office locator is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov

Applications for the GRP are accepted on a year round basis. Ranking periods are announced periodically to rank and fund rental and easement applications.

For more information contact the Gilmer-Calhoun FSA Office at (304) 462-7171 extension 2 or visit the office located in the Glenville Post Office Building, Room 122. Special accommodations will be made, upon request, for persons with disabilities, vision or hearing impairments. Please call if accommodations are required.

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