Improving water quality, quantity goal of two new NRCS programs

“The Gulf of Mexico Initiative affords all farmers, livestock producers and forest land owners a variety of options to conserve natural resources while boosting land production and improving the environmental health of Mississippi,” said Kurt Readus, Mississippi State conservationist.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has begun accepting applications for two programs that could help preserve the quality and quantity of water in two of Mississippi’s prime agricultural areas.

The first is the Mississippi Water Conservation Management Project, a voluntary conservation program that focuses on using management practices to address serious conservation issues related to water quantity in the Delta counties served by the Mississippi River Valley Aquifer or MRVA.

The second involves the Gulf of Mexico Initiative or GoMI, a voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to eligible land owners and land managers to help protect watersheds in coastal counties in South Mississippi.

Funding for both programs will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Applications received by March 18 will be considered in the first ranking period for the Mississippi Water Conservation Management Project. To be considered for GoMI funding in the 2016 fiscal year, applications must be received by March 18.

To sign up for the Mississippi Water Conservation Management Project owners and operators of irrigated agricultural lands must meet the EQIP eligibility requirements and be within the MRVA. This program provides a rate of compensation for dikes, grade stabilization structures, irrigation, pumping plants and water control structures.

Alluvial aquifer

MRVA covers the Mississippi Delta counties of Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Grenada, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington, and Yazoo.

NRCS launched GoMI in 2012 to accelerate water quality, water quantity and fish and wildlife habitat conservation efforts in the Gulf-area watersheds. Land owners and managers can receive a rate of compensation to implement conservation measures, erosion control structures and water quality improvement measures on pastureland, forest land, hay land and cropland that adjoins tributaries, lakes, streams and other water bodies flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Gulf of Mexico Initiative affords all farmers, livestock producers and forest land owners a variety of options to conserve natural resources while boosting land production and improving the environmental health of Mississippi,” said Kurt Readus, Mississippi State conservationist. “When we target voluntary conservation efforts in sensitive areas in the state, we see better results.”

All NRCS financial assistance programs offer a continuous sign-up, however to be considered for GoMI funding in the 2016 fiscal year, applications must be received by March 18.

Eligible counties

All or part of the counties listed are eligible to participate in GoMI:  Amite, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Stone, Walthall, Wayne, and Wilkinson.

For more information about GoMI, visit Gulf of Mexico Initiative. For more on technical and financial assistance available through other conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.

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