United States Department of Agriculture � Natural Resources Conservation Service � 356 Mountain View Dr., Suite 105, Colchester, Vermont 05446
NRCS Announces Funding for Water Quality Conservation in the Rock River Watershed and Missisquoi Bay Basin
Agricultural Producers located in priority watersheds will be able to participate
COLCHESTER, VERMONT, May 8, 2012 � State Conservationist, Vicky M. Drew, announced the launch of two new funding sources aimed at improving water quality in Vermont: the Water Quality Initiative in the Rock River Watershed, and the America�s Great Outdoors Initiative in the Missisquoi Bay Basin. USDA�s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will manage these initiatives by making financial assistance available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the priority watersheds.
�The Water Quality and America�s Great Outdoors Initiatives will further NRCS� partnership efforts to improve water quality using voluntary actions on private lands,� Drew said. �These initiatives use a focused approach in areas facing significant natural resource challenges. It bolsters the positive results of landscape conservation initiatives NRCS and its partners already have underway.�
Through this effort, eligible producers in the Rock River Watershed and Missisquoi Bay Basin will invest in voluntary conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities. Using $935,000 in funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to producers for implementing conservation practices such as manure management, cover crops, filter strips and reduced tillage in watersheds with impairments where federal investments can make a difference in improving water quality. In addition to funding from USDA, Vermont NRCS is working closely with state and local partners to offer an increased level of financial assistance for these targeted initiatives, �Our hope is that farmers may receive close to 100% of the typical costs associated with installing field-based conservation practices in key critical source areas identified in the recently released Stone Environmental report,� Drew said.
�American farmers are good stewards of the environment, especially when they have the tools they need to protect or improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality,� said NRCS Chief Dave White. �We look forward to collaborating with producers in key watersheds to help them have a positive impact on streams with impaired water quality.�
The Missisquoi Bay Basin is a 460,000 acre drainage area in northern Franklin and Orleans counties of Vermont. It is dominated by forestland, agricultural land, and small rural towns. The entire Basin drains to Missisquoi Bay, which has significant water quality concerns associated with nutrient loading and blue-green algae blooms.
The Rock River Watershed is a 36,000 acre watershed within the Missisquoi Bay Basin. It is one of the most intensive agricultural areas in Vermont. Water from the Rock River watershed drains north into Canada, and then turns south back into Vermont and the Missisquoi Bay.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be two ranking periods for both the Water Quality Initiative and the America�s Great Outdoors Initiative, with the first ending on May 18 and the second on June 15, 2012. At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration. This summer, NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.
Since 1935, NRCS� nationwide conservation delivery system works with private landowners to put conservation on the ground based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests. For more information about the Water Quality Initiative, the America�s Great Outdoors Initiative, and all NRCS� programs and services in Vermont, visit us online at www.vt.nrcs.usda.gov.
Above: The Missisquoi Bay Basin and Rock River Watershed in north western Vermont. Federal funds have been targeted to these two areas under national USDA water quality initiatives. NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to producers for implementing conservation practices.
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