Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new initiative to improve water quality and overall health of the Mississippi River Basin.
The focus of the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) is to implement voluntary conservation projects over the next four years within targeted watersheds in 12 key states. The MRBI will help Kentucky landowners implement conservation and management practices that avoid, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land. The watersheds selected were based on the potential for managing nitrogen and phosphorus while maintaining agricultural productivity and benefiting wildlife.
Participation in MRBI was made possible through a competitive process that partnered USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with local, state and national entities. The Kentucky Conservation Partnership, led by the Kentucky Division of Conservation, recognized the urgency of this issue and immediately submitted their conservation proposal to obtain financial assistance.
Out of 76 projects awarded nationwide, the Kentucky Division of Conservation was awarded three projects totaling $3 million for fiscal year 2011. An additional $500,000 will be made available for each project in the next four years through the Kentucky Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost Share program to focus on precision nutrient management. Over the four-year lifespan of the projects, incentive payments totaling $25.5 million will be awarded to Kentucky landowners.
The Kentucky Division of Conservation and the Kentucky Conservation Partnership are committed to improving water quality in each watershed and enhancing conservation outcomes on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands.
Kentucky currently has projects within 32 targeted subwatersheds that cover approximately 756,642 acres and include 2,800 landowners. They include:
- Licking River Watershed—includes 12 subwatersheds in Bath, Fleming, Lewis, Mason and Nicholas counties.
- Lower Green River Watershed—includes 10 subwatersheds in Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Ohio and Webster counties.
- Mayfield Creek Watershed—includes 10 subwatersheds in Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves and Hickman counties.
To date, 41 contracts have been funded in Kentucky covering 5,148 acres totaling $1,592,915 in the first year, with remaining requests of $4.2 million in unfunded applications. A recent presentation discussed the MRBI practices within the Kentucky Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost Share program.
For more information, call the Kentucky Division of Conservation at 502-573-3080 or email Kimberly Richardson.