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EWP Success Stories

Success Story

EWP’s flood plain easement program turns
marginal farmland into wildlife haven

Marginal farmland in the Departee Creek bottoms outside of Bradford is being turned into a haven for waterfowl, shorebirds, amphibians and other wildlife thanks to the Emergency Watershed Program/Flood Plain Easement.

James Tinsley, who farms more than 3,500 acres, enrolled 223 acres into the program and is receiving assistance and funding from NRCS to turn the land into a wetland area.

“This area floods every year resulting in late plantings. A few years ago, I also lost some of my soybean and grain sorghum crops,” Tinsley said.

“The area is four to six feet underwater each year,” said David Fowlkes, conservation agronomist in the Jonesboro Technical Service Center. “Once the White River floods, this area floods.”

So far, levees have been installed that are designed to handle the rise and fall of the water. Two moist-soil units have been installed and a creek that ran straight along the field now meanders throughout the property.

“The site tells us what we need to do,” said Mike Smith, an irrigation specialist at the Jonesboro TSC. “Using old maps, we try to put the land back as close as we can get it to how it was.”

To do that, more than 42,000 trees will be planted on the property.

“We are planting trees that are adapted species for this site and that produce food and shelter for wildlife,” Fowlkes said.
Nuttall, willow oak, water oak, overcup oak, pecan and cypress will be planted at a rate of 302 seedlings per acre on 140 acres of the property.

“Working with NRCS has been wonderful - better than I expected,” said Tinsley.