The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, is accepting applications for the Missouri Ozark Highlands Restoration Partnership.

It will provide $1.2 million to help landowners improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems in 27 counties where Mark Twain National Forest and private lands meet in southern Missouri, including Texas County.

This marks the second year that NRCS and the Forest Service have partnered on this effort and the first year that Missouri has been selected as a recipient of funds.

Forest landowners in areas that qualify are eligible to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds to develop and implement forest management plans. The Forest Service also will target funds to the Mark Twain National Forest in an effort to remove invasive species and improve water quality on the Eleven Point Ranger District.

Overall implementation of this project, on both private and public lands, will reduce wildfire threats by advancing conservation practices such as forest stand improvement, firebreaks, prescribed burning and brush management. Additionally, implementation will reduce sedimentation in surface water and improve habitat for numerous threatened and endangered species.

“The partnership with the U.S. Forest Service will provide significant and immediate impact to forested areas in the Ozark Highlands,” State Conservationist J.R. Flores said.  “Over the course of three years, these EQIP funds will allow forest landowners to address priority resource concerns including forest health, plant and water quality degradation, fish and wildlife habitat and soil erosion.”

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis, but applications for initial funding consideration during this fiscal year must be received by May 15. For a complete list of the 27 counties affected by the Missouri Ozark Highlands Restoration Partnership, log onto the Missouri NRCS website at

Local residents can apply or obtain more information at the NRCS office on U.S. 63 south of Houston. The phone number is 417-967-3321.

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