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News Release

Four Mississippi River Basin Initiative Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program Projects Selected in Arkansas

Application deadline for financial assistance ends June 18

Little Rock, Ark., May 24, 2012 — Arkansas landowners in portions of 18 counties have until June 18 to apply for financial assistance to improve wetlands through the Mississippi River Basin Watershed Initiative (MRBI) Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP).

Four WREP projects in Arkansas were announced May 22 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its partners will invest nearly $32 million this year in financial and technical assistance for five water quality and wetlands improvement projects in seven Mississippi River Basin states. When fully implemented, the projects will prevent sediment and nutrients from entering waterways, decrease flooding and improve bird and fish habitat. NRCS estimates that this investment will restore 11,400 acres to wetland habitat.

“WREP projects funded in Arkansas demonstrate the commitment of Arkansas partners to accelerate conservation in priority watersheds including the strategic creation, restoration, and enhancement on wetlands,” said Mike Sullivan, NRCS state conservationist.

“Working together through the Mississippi River Basin Initiative, we are helping private landowners implement complete conservation systems on their land that help them maintain productivity; avoid, control, and trap sediments and nutrients; improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat,” he said.

Arkansas projects, project sponsors, funding and counties are:

  • Boeuf River Watershed - Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), $2,178,316 - portions of Ashley, Chicot, Desha, Drew, Jefferson and Lincoln counties. “WRP offers optimum habitat for all types of waterfowl and deer.  The program provides excellent financial incentives for implementing this habitat for wildlife.  This in turn provides many avenues for recreational activities for the landowner including: hunting, bird watching, leasing the land for additional income or simply for relaxation and enjoying the outdoors,” said Bubba Groves, AGFC private lands biologist who will also be working with landowners and NRCS on this project.
     

  • Cache/L'Anguille - Craighead County Conservation District, $214,748 - portions of Craighead and Poinsett counties. “The Craighead County Conservation District is excited about opportunities the MRBI WREP program will provide to land owner in Craighead and Poinsett Counties.  Through programs like WREP the conservation districts along with NRCS continues their strong partnership of Helping People Help the Land!” said Jerry Don Clark, Craighead County Conservation District board chairman.
     

  • Cache River and Lower White-Bayou Des Arc wetlands restoration - The Nature Conservancy, $3,030,000 - portions of Jackson, Monroe, Poinsett, Prairie, St. Francis, White and Woodruff counties. “The Nature Conservancy is excited to partner with NRCS in the reforestation of bottom land hardwoods in the Cache and Lower White River Basins. This effort has many benefits, most significantly improving water quality in these rivers and increasing wildlife habitat,” said Scott Simon, director Arkansas Nature Conservancy.
     

  • Lower Mississippi River Batture hardwood forest and wetlands restoration - Mississippi River Trust, $20,231,933 (along with Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee) - portions of Chicot, Crittenden, Desha, Lee, Mississippi and Phillips counties in Arkansas. “We need to find common-sense solutions in response to repeated Mississippi River floods,” said James L. Cummins, Mississippi River Trust president. “This project is one of those solutions. It will help wildlife, improve water quality in the river and the Gulf, and help private landowners.”

Landowners interested in applying for funding should contact their local NRCS office (http://go.usa.gov/m2Y) or the partner listed above. Additional information about the MRBI WREP projects in Arkansas, including area maps, is available at www.ar. nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi.html.