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NRCS California Launches Two Popular Initiatives to Support Avian Populations on California’s Agriculture Lands

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is taking applications for both the NRCS Migratory Bird Resurgence Initiative (MBRI) and Tricolored Blackbird Initiative through May 24, 2024. California has $500,000 available for each initiative statewide for agricultural producers. 

“It is our mission to support producers in addressing their resource concerns as well as protect our wildlife," said NRCS California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “These two important initiatives help our California producers improve their operations to keep habitat for critical avian species healthy, safe, and abundant, while keeping our farmers farming.” 

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized NRCS to create MBRI, through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), due to a pressing need for migratory bird species. MBRI is aimed at preserving, protecting, and improving habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, neotropical birds, and other avian species in the Prairie Pothole Region and in key portions of the Pacific, Mississippi, and Central Flyways. Nationally, NRCS is dedicating $10,500,000 million nationwide to assist producers with technical and financial assistance under the MBRI.

MBRI in California utilizes NRCS’ Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management and Conservation Cover conservation practices to address applicable wildlife habitat resource concerns. Additional supporting practices may be used to provide resource concern benefits for migratory birds.

The NRCS Tricolored Blackbird Initiative serves as an extension of a 2019 NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) agreement that will expire this year. In partnership with Audubon California, NRCS is encouraging dairy farmers to manage their fields differently. NRCS works with the dairy farmers to manage their silage fields to facilitate safe and successful nesting of these birds. 

For questions regarding eligible practices and to apply, please contact your local NRCS Service Center.

How to Apply
Eligible producers for MBRI must operate within Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Yolo, or Yuba counties, and are addressing the applicable resource concerns.

Eligible producers for the NRCS Tricolored Blackbird Initiative must operate within Fresno, Kern, Madera, Merced, and Tulare counties, and have Tricolored Blackbirds on their property in a winter silage crop.

The deadline to apply for either initiative is May 24, 2024.  

Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state, and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.

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