Farmers and ranchers in five Missouri watershed areas are eligible for financial assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them install conservation measures that will contribute to cleaner water flowing into the Mississippi River, and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico.
The five areas are among 27 watersheds selected in 13 states along the Mississippi River as part of continuing Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) efforts. The announcement of new MRBI watershed areas in Missouri will make $7.8 million in financial assistance available over the next four years to address critical natural resource concerns in the priority watersheds.
Missouri State Conservationist J.R. Flores said the five Missouri watershed areas were selected because targeted conservation in those areas will have a significant impact on increased water quality and reduced sediment being delivered to the Mississippi River.
“Conservation systems implemented in these watersheds will reduce the amount of sediments and nutrients flowing from agricultural land into the waterways that feed into the Mississippi River,” Flores said. “The additional conservation practices put in place on the land will curb soil erosion and improve the resiliency of farmland in the face of drought and flood.”
The new areas include the following Missouri watersheds:
• James Bayou St. John’s Diversion Ditch and Mud Ditch (Mississippi and New Madrid Counties);
• Upper Buffalo Creek Ditch (Dunklin County);
• Bear Creek West Yellow Creek (Linn County);
• Peno Creek and Spencer Creek (Ralls and Pike counties);
• Sugar Creek and Mission Creek Missouri River (Buchanan and Platte counties).
This newest investment builds on previous assistance provided since MRBI’s start in 2009. In that time, NRCS has worked with 5,000 private landowners in the 13 states to improve more than 1 million acres. That includes 1,275 landowner contracts on 129,000 acres in Missouri. The five new MRBI watersheds join 15 others active watershed areas that were designated in Missouri in previous years. Conservation practices offered through MRBI will focus on the avoidance of access nutrients and sediment movement occurring on land in the priority watershed areas. The core activities, such as cover crops, increased crop rotations, decreased tillage, precision nutrient application, and exclusion fencing, will strengthen soil health, reduce erosion and lessen nutrient runoff. The first application deadline for funding is set for May 15. To learn more about MRBI, landowners can contact a local NRCS offices or go to www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov.