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USDA Awards More Than $1.8 Million in Grants to Study Conservation Practices on Grazing Land Watersheds

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2008 - Agriculture Under Secretaries Gale Buchanan and Mark Rey today announced that USDA has awarded more than $1.8 million through the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) partnership between the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  CEAP is a multi-agency effort to scientifically quantify the environmental benefits of conservation practices used by private landowners participating in USDA and other conservation programs.

"This year the CEAP research and extension grants address conservation practices on grazing lands, the single largest land type in the United States," said Gale Buchanan, USDA chief scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.  "Grazing land watersheds are critical to the sustainability of the livestock industry, wildlife habitat and clean, available water."

"It is important for us to quantify the gains and losses resulting from the nation’s ongoing investment in conservation on working lands—to be able to say definitively, this is what certain practices do, and if you take them away, this is what will happen. CEAP is helping us translate science into policies and practices that support attainment of our natural resource objectives," said Rey, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. 

Project findings will guide USDA conservation policy and program development and help farmers and ranchers to make informed conservation choices.  The grants will create new knowledge, models and evaluation techniques that could significantly improve grazing land management.  These integrated projects are expected to create new educational, training and extension avenues for students and the public in the area of rangeland and grassland science.  These key CEAP grants will support the joint work of CSREES’ National Integrated Water Quality Program and NRCS’ Resources Inventory and Assessment Division.

Fiscal Year 2008 CEAP grants were awarded to:

  • University of Arizona, $598,000
  • Texas A&M University, $647,000
  • Washington State University, $621,000

CEAP's goal is to quantify the environmental benefits and effects of 2002 Farm Bill programs: Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Security Program and Conservation Technical Assistance.

These grants will support two key elements of CEAP-- the national assessment and the watershed-level assessment.  The national assessment tracks environmental effects of conservation practices and programs. The watershed-level assessments conduct more detailed evaluations for improving how watersheds are viewed and valued.  Additional information on CEAP, including other CSREES competitively awarded watershed studies, is available at

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit

Since its inception in 1935, NRCS’ conservation delivery system continues a unique partnership, delivering conservation that respects local needs, while accommodating state and national interests.  For more information on NRCS, the conservation partnership, and conservation programs available in your community, stop by your local USDA service center, or visit NRCS online at