Birds migrating south this year will find more than 65,000 additional acres with enhanced habitat and water in Arkansas. Landowners in 30 counties submitted 1,881 applications totaling $42,272,033. We received $7.22 million and funded 343 contracts through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Wetlands Reserve Program.
Arkansas is one of eight states selected to participate in the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative with 30 counties in the eastern and southwest areas. The initiative was available in Arkansas, Ashley, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Drew, Greene, Independence, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee, Lincoln, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Francis, White and Woodruff counties. Other states in the initiative are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.
NRCS provided financial and technical resources to agricultural producers to install practices which control water levels and enhance habitat to attract migratory birds. Arkansas landowners are receiving payments to flood existing farmed wetlands, cropland previously converted to wetlands and other land that can provide immediate habitat for these birds. The rice fields of eastern Arkansas are particularly well-suited for this program.
Arkansas has coordinated and worked successfully with its partners including Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.