USDA invests $30 million in Mississippi River Basin

Farmers and ranchers along the Mississippi River Basin will receive help in the form of $30 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 73 projects targeting conservation in high-priority watersheds.

Thirty-three new projects and 40 existing projects will split the money, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday. The money will come from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative program.

"By targeting small priority watersheds within the Mississippi River basin, we are helping to deliver local water quality benefits and contributing to large-scale improvements for the Basin as a whole," Vilsack said. "Water quality is important to everyone, at all levels of government, to private landowners, and in rural and urban areas alike. The many partnerships created through this initiative are both impressive and promising to the future of these watersheds."

Four of the new projects include addressing nutrient and sediment losses from cropland and degraded pastures in Crawford and Vernon Counties in Wisconsin along the Kickapoo River. The NRCS will invest $847,000 in fiscal year 2016 with a total of $5.3 million for the watershed over the next four years.

In Upper Birds Point, Missouri, NRCS will implement a system to reduce sediment and nutrient loss, improve migratory bird habitat and protect shallow ground water. NRCS will invest $436,000 in fiscal year 2016 with a total of $2 million over the next four years.

In Upper Bayou-Macon, Arkansas, NRCS will also work to reduce sediment and nutrient loading. Specifically in Bayou Macon, the money will also go to improve the habitat of four endangered species -- the Pallid Sturgeon, Fat Pocketbook, Pink Mucket and Scaleshell. These projects will receive $794,000 in fiscal year 2016 and a total of $4 million over the next four years.

Finally, NCRS will be working in Slocum Creek, Iowa, to improve water quality for residents and improve the Iowa nutrient reduction strategy. NRCS will invest $294,000 in fiscal year 2016 and a total of almost $700,000 over the next three years.

The programs have resulted in significant improvement of the Mississippi River Basin as documented by the USDA in the 2013 report "Conservation Effects Assessment Project."

Organizations in this story

United States Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave SW Washington, DC 20250

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