1415.11 Restoration agreements.§ 1415.11 Restoration agreements.
(a) Restoration agreements are only authorized to be used in conjunction with easements and rental contracts. NRCS, in consultation with the program participant, determines if the grassland resources are adequate to meet the participant's objectives and the purposes of the program, or if a restoration agreement is needed. Such a determination is also subject to the availability of funding. USDA may condition participation in the program upon the execution of a restoration agreement depending on the condition of the grassland resources. When the functions and values of the grassland are determined adequate by NRCS, a restoration agreement is not required. However, if a restoration agreement is required, NRCS will set the terms of the restoration agreement. The restoration plan component of the restoration agreement identifies conservation practices and activities necessary to restore or improve the functions and values of the grassland to meet both USDA and the participant's objectives and purposes of the program. If the functions and values of the grassland decline while the land is subject to a GRP easement or rental contract through no fault of the participant, the participant may enter into a restoration agreement at that time to improve the functions and values with USDA approval and when funds are available.
(b) The NRCS State Conservationist, with advice from the State Technical Committee and in consultation with FSA, determines the conservation practices and activities and the cost-share percentages, not to exceed statutory limits available under GRP. A list of conservation practices and activities approved for cost-share assistance under GRP restoration plans is available to the public through the local USDA Service Center. NRCS may work through the local conservation district with the program participant to determine the terms of the restoration plan. The conservation district may assist NRCS with determining eligible conservation practices and activities and approving restoration agreements.
(c) Only approved conservation practices and activities are eligible for cost-sharing. Payments under the GRP restoration agreements may be made to the participant of not more than 50 percent for the cost of carrying out the conservation practices or activities. As provided by the regulations at part 1400 of this chapter, payments made under one or more restoration agreements to a person or legal entity, directly or indirectly, may not exceed, in the aggregate, $50,000 per year.
(d) The participant is responsible for the operation and maintenance of conservation practices in accordance with the restoration agreement.
(e) All conservation practices must be implemented in accordance with the FOTG.
(f) Technical assistance is provided by NRCS, or an NRCS approved third party.
(g) If the participant is receiving cost-share for the same conservation practice or activity from another conservation program, USDA will adjust the GRP cost-share rate proportionately so that the amount received by the participant does not exceed 100 percent of the costs of restoration.
(h) The participant cannot receive cost-share from more than one USDA cost-share program for the same conservation practice or activity on the same land.
(i) Cost-share payments may be made only upon a determination by a qualified individual approved by the NRCS State Conservationist that an eligible restoration practice has been established in compliance with appropriate standards and specifications.
(j) Conservation practices and activities identified in the restoration plan may be implemented by the participant or other designee.
(k) Cost-share payments will not be made for conservation practices or activities implemented or initiated prior to the approval of a rental contract or easement acquisition unless a written waiver is granted by the NRCS State Conservationist or FSA State Executive Director, as appropriate, prior to installation of the practice.
(l) Upon transfer of an easement with a restoration agreement to an eligible entity as described in § 1415.18, the entity will be responsible for administration of the agreement and providing funds for payment of any costs associated with the completion of the restoration agreement. The eligible entity may, with participant consent, revise an existing restoration agreement or develop a new restoration agreement. Restoration plans must be consistent with the GRP management plan or any associated conservation plan as described in § 1415.4.
(m) Cooperating entities under § 1415.17 will be responsible for development, administration, and implementation costs of restoration plans.