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News Release

NRCS Announces $607,225 Funding for Lower Arkansas (Upper) 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 $607,225 in financial assistance available in FY 2012 to agricultural producers for addressing water quality concerns in the Lower Arkansas (Upper) Watershed in portions of Jefferson, Lonoke and Pulaski counties through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI).

NRCS, in partnership with the Bayou Meto Water Management 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 131,522 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 by reducing nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment levels in the watershed by utilizing a combination of conservation practices; enhance wetlands; improve fish and wildlife habitat benefits; and maintain agricultural productivity.  Water quality and water quantity will be enhanced through conservation practices in the project area to improve water quality and reduce ground water mining of the aquifer.

“MRBI will allow the farmers in portions of Jefferson, Lonoke and Pulaski counties to improve the quality of the water in their streams, the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers and the Gulf of Mexico as well as helping solve our ground water problem,” said Gary Canada, president of the Bayou Meto Water Management District. 

“This is a double win for us.  It will allow us to improve the water quality in our streams and also reduce our dependence on ground water by letting farmers use more surface water and improve their irrigation efficiency, said Gene Sullivan, executive director of the Bayou Meto Water Management District.

Funding will be available to eligible landowners through the 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 Lower Arkansas (Upper).  Applications may be obtained and filed with the Natural Resources Conservation Service at:

Jefferson County Pine Bluff Field Service Center Federal Building, Room 2603 100 East 8th Avenue Pine Bluff, AR  71601 (870) 534-3200, ext. 3   Lonoke County Lonoke Field Service Center 1300 North Center, Suite 8 Lonoke, AR  72086 (501) 676-5116, ext. 3   Pulaski County North Little Rock Field Service Center Room 203, NBA Building 4004 McCain Blvd. North Little Rock, AR  27116-8026 (501) 758-2544, ext. 3