State Conservationist Pat Leavenworth announced the launch of a new National Water Quality Initiative committed to improving three impaired waterways in Wisconsin. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will manage the initiative by making funds available to farmers and forest landowners in the selected watersheds.
"We believe we can make a significant and noticeable improvement in the quality of these troubled waters by focusing efforts on the core clean water practices," said Leavenworth. "By reducing soil erosion from the cropland, and repairing and stabilizing the streambanks, the watercourse and the fishery will recover in due time."
Three watersheds have been selected in Wisconsin. They are:
Eligible producers in these watersheds will begin voluntary conservation actions to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities. The selected watersheds were identified with help from state agencies, partners, and the NRCS State Technical Committee. They have strong county and DNR involvement, ongoing water quality monitoring, and a history of farmer participation in conservation programs.
Using nearly $900,000 from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide funding and advice to producers to install conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces in watersheds with impairments where the federal investment can make a difference to improve water quality.
"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."
Upland conservation practices will reduce the sediment loading from cropland. These practices include contour buffers, critical area planting, grade stabilization, grazing and conservation planning to tolerable soil loss. To restore the stream corridor itself, streambank fencing, riprap, critical area planting, and buffers are needed. Aquatic habitat structures, such as lunkers, boulders, weirs, and cross logs, may also be added for fish habitat.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. All applications must be received by June 15, 2012 to be considered for funding in 2012. This summer, NRCS will notify all applicants of the results and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.
Since 1935, NRCS's 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 NRCS programs, initiatives and services in Wisconsin, visit us online at www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov