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NRCS improving impaired watersheds

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

State Conservationist Kevin Brown has announced additional funding for an initiative to improve water quality in selected watersheds in Tennessee.

The watersheds are Fork Creek in Monroe and Loudon counties, Fall Creek in Bedford County, and Clover Creek in Obion County.

NRCS has $765,076 in assistance available this year to help Tennessee farmers and forestland owners install conservation practices that manage nutrients, pathogens and sediments. Funding comes through the agency’s National Water Quality Initiative.

NRCS conservation professionals will provide technical assistance and planning tools to help farmers determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on their land.  Eligible producers receive assistance for installing conservation systems that may include practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, composting facility, filter strip, grade stabilization structure, no-till residue management, prescribed grazing, streambank and shoreline protection and waste storage facility.

“When producers work to improve water quality in small watersheds,” stated Brown, “everyone benefits. We see results at the local level and communities benefit by having clean waterways, safer drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.”

NRCS worked closely with partners and the State Technical Committee to select priority watersheds where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to improve water quality. Partners include state and federal agencies, agricultural and conservation organizations, and technical experts.

The selected watersheds have streams or water bodies that are threatened or impaired and are on the State’s 303 (d) list of impaired waters as designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Through this water quality initiative, NRCS is also piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff. The tool will help landowners determine how alternative conservation systems they are considering will impact water quality improvement.  Additionally, state water quality agencies and other partners will do in-stream and watershed-level monitoring to track water quality improvements in many of the project watersheds.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. All applications for funding consideration during this fiscal year must be received by June 21, 2013; the deadline for obligation is Aug. 30.

For more information about NRCS programs, initiatives and services in Tennessee, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.