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News Release

NRCS Announces $529,531 Funding for Big Watershed Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative

Producers Have Until July 18, 2012, to Submit Applications

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., June 19, 2012 – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White today announced $529,531 in financial assistance in FY 2012 available to agricultural producers for addressing water quality concerns in Big Watershed in a portion of Phillips County through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI).

NRCS, in partnership with Phillips County Conservation District, has received funding for the initiative.  Producers have until July 18, 2012, to submit applications to receive financial assistance to implement conservation practices.  The project area covers 125,846 acres.

“We have recognized that targeting money to a specific watershed is more effective than just �random acts of conservation’.  One of the ways we have done this is through special initiatives within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  MRBI targets specific watersheds for specific water quality and quantity practices,” said Mike Sullivan, NRCS state conservationist. “Nine projects were selected in Arkansas through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative portion of MRBI.  Funding for the nine new projects will total approximately $49.7 million over the next four years.”

“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,” Sullivan said. 

The goals of the project are to improve water quality, reduce sediment and nutrient loads entering the Big Watershed, enhance wetlands, improve fish and wildlife habitat benefits, and maintain agricultural productivity by utilizing a combination of conservation practices. 

“Participating in the MRBI program will improve water quality and bring more federal aid to Phillips County,” said Earnest Larry, chairman of the Phillips County Conservation Board of Directors.  “Stopping erosion, improving drainage, nutrient management, applying cover crops and other practices will increase yield and improve water quality by reducing the use of nutrients in Phillips County.”

There will be an MRBI meeting June 29, 2012, at the United Methodist Church in Marvell at 10 a.m. to discuss the benefits to Phillips County.  “I encourage all Phillips County farmers and landowners to attend this meeting to learn how to utilize new EQIP funding through the MRBI program,” Larry said. 

Funding will be available to eligible landowners through EQIP.  NRCS will provide financial assistance for a variety of conservation practices for the purpose of reducing the amount of nutrient runoff and soil erosion associated with agricultural production.  Land and producer eligibility, adjusted gross income, and all other program criteria for participation must be met to participate in this initiative.  Agricultural lands are eligible for enrollment in the initiative.

NRCS and associated conservation partners will deliver this program collaboratively.  For more information about the project, conservation practices approved, collaborating partners and an area map, visit Big Watershed.  Applications may be obtained and filed with the Natural Resources Conservation Service at:

Phillips County Conservation District Helena Field Service Center 617 Walnut Street, Room 217 Helena, AR  72342 (870) 338-6651, ext. 3