The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been investing in Alaska’s working lands for the past 70 years. The organization has been working for seven decades to protect the people and their communities, restoring streams to allow salmon populations to continue growing, and protecting the state’s soils for the future.
Since February 19, 1948, the day the agency first set up shop in one of Alaska’s premier agriculture centers in Palmer, the NRCS has been dedicated to its mission of helping the people and land of the area.
While keeping to their mission, the NRCS has had many hurdles to jump over the course of that last 70 years; they have dealt with the harsh climate, poor soil conditions, and traveling to isolated communities to extend their help. Through any challenges, the NRCS has stuck by the community and continued to provide service any way they can.
Over the last 70 years working the Last Frontier, the NRCS has improved the landscapes of Alaska through multiple endeavors and projects. Recently, the agency has invested 23 million dollars through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program to help individuals plan and install custom-designed conservation practices that benefit soil, water, air, plants, and animals on privately-owned agricultural and forest lands. In addition, in 2017 they helped implement 2,230 conservation practices through 400 conservation plans.
Agriculturally, the NRCS has instigated the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, helping the community of Eagle purchase an incinerator to safely burn sewage- and fuel-tainted wreckage left behind after flowing automobile-size blocks of ice devastated the town. They have created more than 120 federally funded high tunnels, allowing growers produce warm-season crops in good soil year-round.
Salmon in Alaska are among some of the finest in the world, but over decades of fishing, the streams had become reduced in size and quantity of salmon. Through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Tyonek Tribal Conservation District near Anchorage, reopened miles of salmon spawning grounds, replacing 10 miles of streams and reinvigorating salmon populations in the area.
The NRCS also takes action to protect the tundra environments of Alaska, which can take years to recover if damaged. To protect these environments, the NRCS takes resource inventories of tundra, so that reindeer herders have the information they need for good management of rangelands and soils.
Through seventy years of service, the NRCS has ensured that the Last Frontier remains beautiful and protected so that future generations can live off and enjoy the land.
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