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NRCS seeks new priority watersheds for the Mississippi River Basin Initiative and National Water Quality Initiative

Aerial view of Mt. Toby Farm (left of Connecticut River), in Sunderland, MA, has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) to create their conservation plan that includes the use of Forage and biomass Planting  (512) and Establish and reseed their cover crop during the cool season, on October 18, 2019. Working with Natural Resource Specialist / Business Tools Coordinator Lisa Gilbert who records the progress with the conservation plan. USDA Photo

Indiana NRCS announced it is accepting proposals to designate new priority watersheds for the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) and National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana announced it is accepting proposals to designate new priority watersheds for the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) and National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

Known as “America’s River,” the Mississippi River is North America’s largest river, flowing over 2,300 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The watershed not only provides drinking water, food, industrial opportunities and recreation for more than 18 million people, it also hosts a globally significant migratory flyway and is home to more than 325 bird species. Through MRBI, NRCS and its partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in the Mississippi River Basin. New priority watershed proposals should address these resource concerns and align with state nutrient loss reduction strategies.

NWQI is a joint initiative between NRCS and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address agricultural sources of water pollution, specifically nutrients, sediment and pathogens in priority watersheds, with a special component for source water protection. This strategic approach leverages funds and provides streamlined assistance to help individual agricultural producers take needed actions in impaired watersheds. New priority watershed proposals can be located anywhere in Indiana and should address these resource concerns.

“Indiana NRCS is proud to be involved in targeted small watershed efforts to improve and protect our water resources,” said Indiana NRCS State Conservationist Jerry Raynor. “These new priority watersheds will allow landowners and farmers to receive conservation payments to work on the land in a sustainable way which provides cleaner water while keeping their land productive.”

New MRBI and NWQI watershed projects must first complete a watershed assessment plan to meet NRCS guidelines. This planning phase will provide time for watershed-level assessment, on-farm planning and outreach to support development of the multi-year implementation plan that will assist states with their nutrient loss reduction strategies or source water protection. Funding is available to complete the plan.

Watershed projects with an already approved assessment plan can apply for targeted Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and/or Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funding for implementation of conservation practices over the course of several years. The approved assessment plan does not have to be a product of the planning phase but does need to meet the NRCS assessment plan criteria.

Partners who are interested in being a part of the planning phase or implementation phase should contact Jill Reinhart, Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships, at for information and application materials. Application materials are due no later than June 18.

To learn more about MRBI visit: Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative | NRCS (

To learn more about NWQI, visit National Water Quality Initiative | NRCS (

For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs contact your district conservationist Find Your Local Service Center |


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