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The Scoop

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File / The Journal Gazette
Eel River near North Manchester.

Verbatim: Initiative targets area watershed projects

Statement issued Monday:

Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding for the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) for 12 states in the middle of the U.S. Draining some 41 percent of the United States, the Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Through this new Initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its partners will help producers in targeted watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity.

According to NRCS Acting State Conservationist Shannon Zezula, “The MRBI is using a targeted approach to direct this conservation initiative. The goal of this initiative is to reduce nutrient loading in the basin, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. The funding is being offered directly to producers through three Farm Bill Conservation Programs.”

Three of the seven proposals approved for Indiana will receive funding during 2010, for a total of just under $1 million. Funding is available in targeted sub-watersheds, and will be distributed to producers through existing Farm Bill conservation programs. The watersheds for 2010 are:

1. Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative – $146,938 available to landowners through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install conservation practices for erosion control and nutrient management in the watershed in Kosciusko, Miami, and Wabash counties. Manchester College led this effort and will do water quality monitoring and local promotion and will provide some technical assistance support.

2. Wildcat Creek Watershed – $367,500 of EQIP funding and $75,375 of Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) funding is available to landowners in several sub-watersheds of Wildcat Creek Watershed. The Greater Wabash Resource Conservation & Development proposed this project and will perform local outreach to landowners, monitoring and modeling to support it.

3. Upper Wabash Watershed – $390,000 available to landowners through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), to place easements on lands that have repeated flooding problems and to carry out wetland restoration. The Nature Conservancy led this effort and will promote this project locally by providing restoration plans and easement work and monitoring restoration success.

Four additional projects are slated to begin receiving funds in FY 2011, including:

  • Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Upper Eel River Watershed Nutrient Management Project, EQIP & WHIP
  • Decatur County SWCD, Upper East Fork White River Watershed Alliance, EQIP and Conservation Security Program (CSP)
  • Warren County SWCD, Nutrient Retention Systems in Jordan Creek-Leak Ditch Watershed, EQIP and CSP
  • Upper Wabash River Basin Commission, Hickory Branch Nutrient Management Project, EQIP

Applications will be accepted through mid-July for the 2010 sign-up.

To apply for MRBI funding or for additional information, visit your closest USDA Service Center - locations can be found at http://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/field_offices.html.

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