To improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin, including water quality and wildlife habitat, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Through this new Initiative, NRCS and its partners will help producers in selected watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation practices and systems that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity.
The Initiative will build on the past efforts of producers, NRCS, partners, and other State and Federal agencies in the 12-State Initiative area, including Arkansas, to address nutrient loading in the Mississippi River Basin. Nutrient loading contributes to both local water quality problems and the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The 12 participating States are Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. MRBI will be implemented by NRCS through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP), Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG), and other programs.
The watersheds in Arkansas are Lake Conway-Point Remove, L'Anguille, Cache, Lower St. Francis, Bayou Macon, Boeuf River and Little River Ditches watersheds.
Fiscal Year 2011 Projects Selected in Arkansas
Five CCPI projects were chosen in Arkansas. The projects, first year funding and sponsors are:
Fiscal Year 2011 MRBI Conservation Innovation Grants
On August 22, 2011, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the winning proposals for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). Through CIG, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues. Of the 4 grants Arkansas is part of, two support development of conservation innovations in the Mississippi River Basin. The two grants (shown below) total $856,170.
University of Arkansas (AR), $205,343 -- Integration Soil, Crop and Pest Monitoring Using Spatial Technology on Arkansas Cotton Farms to Achieve Nutrient Loss reduction--in cooperation with Little River Ditches MRBI/CCPI