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Grassland applications due

August 25, 2004

Landowners have only a few days to file applications for the Grassland Reserve Program administered by the USDA's Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Services.

Friday is the deadline to submit grassland offers and have them considered for 2004 fiscal year funding. In Maryland, more than $170,000 is available to qualifying applicants.

The program "helps preserve and conserve our nation's grasslands by providing financial and technical assistance to the landowners," said Colleen Cashell, executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Washington County.

Grasslands eligible for enrollment may be native grassland, improved rangeland or improved pastureland. Other acreage that might qualify for enrollment includes land containing forbs or shrubs, or land located in an area historically dominated by grassland. Offers for participation must include 40 acres on the same tract.

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The Natural Resources Conservation Service will evaluate each offer and rate the eligibility of the land according to factors such as current vegetative cover, susceptibility to urban sprawl and the potential for conversion to cropland.

Landowners whose applications are approved "will receive assistance to support grazing operations, increase and maintain plant and animal biodiversity, and protect grass and rangelands under the greatest threat of conversion," Cashell said.

For more information, contact the Washington County USDA Service Center at 301-797-0500, ext. 2, or go to www.usda.gov on the Web.

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