December 9, 2015 Press Release- The Owen County SWCD and NRCS will partner with farmers on conservation projects in the Fish Creek-White River watershed, including Limestone Creek, McCormick’s Creek, Elliston Creek, and Mills Creek.
On November 9th, 2015, Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty announced that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest over $1.1 million in Indiana this year aimed at four new and four existing projects to improve water quality in high priority watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. These projects reduce loss of nutrients and sediment to waters that eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
“By targeting small priority watersheds within the Mississippi River basin, we are helping farmers to deliver local water quality benefits that contribute to large-scale improvements for the basin as a whole,” Hardisty said. “Water quality is important to everyone and the many partnerships created through this initiative are promising to the future health of these watersheds.”
These projects are funded through NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), which uses several Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), to encourage farmers to adopt conservation systems to improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands. Since MRBI’s start in 2009, the Indiana NRCS has brought over $11 million in funding to targeted watersheds.
Findings from a 2013 report by the USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) show that conservation work on cropland in the Mississippi River Basin has reduced the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus flowing to the Gulf of Mexico by 18 to 20 percent, respectively.
The Fish Creek-White River watershed in Owen County including sub watersheds Limestone Creek, McCormick’s Creek, Elliston Creek, and Mills Creek is a newly selected project for MRBI funding. The NRCS District Conservationist, Kristi Kennedy, along with Owen County SWCD Executive Director, Andrea Oeding, are committed to assist farmers with setting up systems of conservation practices on their operations. And this isn’t cookie-cutter conservation. Each system of practices is designed specifically for an individual farm.
The goal of the Fish Creek-White River MRBI project in Owen County will be to reduce non-point sources of sediment, nutrients, and E. coli in the West Fork White River by establishing vegetated riparian buffers in agricultural lands along the White River, excluding livestock from the river and its tributaries, and improving soil health and preventing nutrient loss in conventional farmland by increasing no-till and cover crop acres.
The EQIP-MRBI application deadline in Indiana is January 15, 2016. If interested in applying, please submit a signed application to the local NRCS field office. Applications submitted by January 15, 2016 will be evaluated by NRCS staff. To learn more about MRBI and the watershed project selected in Owen County, contact District Conservationist Kristi Kennedy, 765-653-5716 x3 (Kristi.firstname.lastname@example.org) or Andrea Oeding at the Owen County SWCD office, 812-829-2605 (email@example.com).