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News Release

NRCS Will Fund New Projects to Protect Natural Resources in the Mississippi River Basin

Contact:
Sylvia Rainford
202-720-2536


WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011 — USDA will provide $14.4 million of targeted funding in fiscal year 2011 to help eligible agricultural producers in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation practices to improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat.

Dave White, Chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), today announced the selection of 19 new projects that will provide technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to implement conservation practices that prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land; and restore and protect wetlands.

“The Mississippi River Basin provides drinking water and recreation for millions of people and hosts a globally significant migratory flyway,” White said. “The basin also houses some of our nation’s most productive agricultural land. This announcement builds on the investment we made in 2010 and we will continue to help producers balance critical conservation work with productive agricultural operations.”

Under the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), NRCS will provide the $14.4 million in financial assistance in priority small watersheds using the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) during fiscal year 2011 for new MRBI projects in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. CCPI funding is administered through the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. WREP is a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program.

Below are descriptions of some of the new projects:

Bayou de Chien (Kentucky) – $1.65 million to landowners to purchase easements that reduce sediment and nutrients and improve the quality of water entering the Mississippi River. The project also will improve wildlife habitat by restoring the extent and function of forested wetland systems in the Mayfield Watershed in Western Kentucky. Primary Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy.

Cache River Nutrient Loss Reduction (Arkansas) – $160,000 to help agricultural producers improve their nutrient and water management to prevent runoff. Primary Sponsor: Arkansas Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Inc.

Cedar Creek Watershed Project (Iowa) – $1.29 million to producers to address identified conservation gaps in the Cedar Creek Watershed by reducing nutrient and sediment losses from agricultural acres within three targeted small watersheds through conservation practices such as residue management, cover crops and nutrient management. Primary Sponsor: Pocahontas County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Prairie Creek Watershed Project (Iowa) – $486,510 to producers to reduce nutrient and sediment losses from agricultural acres within four small watersheds as well as to restore and maintain a healthy riparian area along Prairie Creek to trap and filter excess nutrients and sediment while improving wildlife and aquatic habitat. Primary Sponsor: Humboldt Soil and Water Conservation District.

Richland Consolidated Number One (Missouri) – $170,230 to producers to accelerate conservation efforts to improve water quality, maintain agricultural productivity; improve wildlife habitat; and protect, restore and enhance wetlands. Monitoring and modeling approaches will be used to document project accomplishments. Primary Sponsor: Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Information about the remaining new projects and overall information about MRBI are available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi_overview.html. 

Earlier in fiscal year 2011, NRCS made available an additional $43 million in financial assistance through Farm Bill conservation programs to support more than 70 existing MRBI projects first funded in fiscal year 2010.

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