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News Release

NRCS Announces Sign Up for Illinois River and Eucha-Spavinaw Watershed Initiative

Cutoff Date for Applications is Feb. 13, 2012

Little Rock, AR, Jan. 23, 2012 — Farmers and landowners in Benton and Washington counties in Arkansas have until Feb. 13, 2012, to submit applications to receive cost-share assistance to implement conservation practices through the Illinois River Sub-Basin and Eucha-Spavinaw Lake Watershed Initiative.  Applicants can sign up at the Benton and Washington county USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field service centers.

“The purpose of the project is to improve water quality of the watershed while maintaining the food and fiber production in the area,” said NRCS State Conservationist Mike Sullivan. “NRCS and its conservation partners plan to further treat and reduce water quality resource concerns through conservation practices which will avoid, control, and trap the nutrients and sediments.  The combination of these kinds of practices both upland from and adjacent to the water bodies will be highly beneficial to the water resources in the area.” 

Land treatment and structural practices will be installed on a voluntary basis in the project area using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Cost-share payments for all practices involved in the initiative will be eligible for 75/25 percent match of Federal to participant funding. Historically underserved participants will be eligible for 90 percent cost-share.

“Combining proper manure management, utilization, and transfer practices with nutrient management and soil erosion treatment in a suite of practices is required to reduce nutrient and sedimentation runoff to acceptable rates,” Sullivan said.  “The conservation practices available through NRCS are designed to help control the water quality issues in the initiative area.  Based on Conservation Effects Assessment Project simulation models for other parts of the country, it is estimated this initiative could result in a 17 to 29 percent reduction in sedimentation and nutrient load to water bodies.”

Water quality issues in this area have been identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as high concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments and bacteria.  Potential non-point sources of these degrading agents are runoff from land surfaces after application of animal manure/litter as fertilizer on pastures, soil erosion, re-suspension of streambed sediments, and nutrients from poultry production as well as other livestock farming operations within the area.

More information on the initiative, a map of the area and list of conservation practices is available at http://www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/illinois_spavinaw_initiative.html.  To submit an application, call the Benton County NRCS office at (479) 273-2622, extension 3; or Washington County NRCS office at (479) 442-4160, extension 3.