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News Release

NRCS Announces $159,627 Funding for Wapanocca Lake 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 more than $159,627 in financial assistance available in FY 2012 to agricultural producers for addressing water quality concerns in the Wapanocca Lake Watershed in a portion of Crittenden County through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI).

NRCS, in partnership with Crittenden 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 51,012 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 loads entering the watershed and to Wapanocca Wildlife Refuge.  Water quality will be enhanced through conservation practices in the project area.

“The Wapanocca Lake Watershed MRBI Project supports area landowners' efforts to reduce soil erosion on their farms and benefits Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) by improving the quality of water flowing into Wapanocca Lake.  The resulting increase in water clarity and reduction in annual sedimentation will improve Wapanocca Lake for wintering waterfowl and recreational fishing,” said Jimmy Sharp, chairman of Crittenden County Conservation District.  

“This is a significant project designed to assist in keeping productive soils in agricultural farm fields, improving water quality in the Mississippi River Basin and enhancing fisheries resources for the public.  If native grass buffers are installed, additional benefits to quail, rabbits and declining populations of grassland songbirds will be provided,” said Ricky Chastain, deputy director with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and chair of the Arkansas Mississippi Alluvial Valley Conservation Delivery Network.

“This project is the direct outcome of recent efforts to establish the first Conservation Delivery Network in the Lower Mississippi Valley.  Collaboration between field staff of the Wapanocca NWR, the AGFC and NRCS made this project possible by leveraging their resources together,” Chastain said.

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 Wapanocca Lake Watershed.  Applications may be obtained and filed with the Natural Resources Conservation Service at:

Crittenden County Marion Field Service Center 1 Natural Resources Drive Marion, AR  72364 (870) 739-4464, ext. 3