Delaware River Restoration Fund
An approved Farm Conservation Plan is required to be in place for those farmers who sell a development easement via the state farmland preservation program. This plan is also a required precursor of any natural resource conservation program grants such as the WHIP and EQIP. The local NRCS office usually administers these conservation plans, but there is an identified backlog due to Farm Bill Program workload. Owners of preserved farms often apply to NRCS but are not prioritized and the wait can often be years, if ever, to complete. North Jersey RC&D is in a unique position as a nonprofit as two of its employees are skilled and trained by NRCS to complete conservation plans. North Jersey RC&D pledges to complete 30-40 conservation plans on preserved farmland within the two years. The SADC and NRCS have pledged support as partners to the project. The priority target area is the Lower Musconetcong Focus Area, but farms in the Lopatcong and Upper Paulins Kill Focus Area will be considered for completion as needed. The concentration of preserved farmland in the Lower Musconetcong Focus Area justifies completion of plans within this area. Currently, only about 1/3 of preserved farms in this area have conservation plans in place. Once plans are implemented and approved, these farms are eligible for federal cost-share programs to support conservation projects. This allows continued leveraging of DRWI dollars toward water quality improvements in the NJ Highlands.