The NRCS has now invested about $289 million, including $59 million in 2013, to the MRBI, focusing on 640 small watersheds in ten states along the main stem of the Mississippi River, as well as in Ohio, Indiana, and South Dakota.
TNC mission might surprise you
If you think The Nature Conservancy is an environmental organization interested only in protecting natural environments at the expense of agriculture, read on. Dave DeGeus, a south-central Iowa farmer and the sustainable agriculture lead for TNC's Great Rivers Partnership, says just the opposite is true. "What we do is work in partnerships that help local people craft solutions to national problems, and we're interested in helping farmers increase productivity and avoid regulation," DeGeus says.
The Nature Conservancy, the largest non-profit environmental organization in the U.S. with more than a million members and 550 staff scientists, has spent millions of dollars in Iowa alone in water quality projects. It put up the salary and other funding for TNC freshwater specialist Eileen Bader to work full time with farmers in the Boone River project to develop a model that will work in other areas to improve farmland and rivers alike, for instance. TNC staff are also working with farmers in similar projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
"While TNC works through private donations to preserve vital habitats for animals and plants in all 50 states and 35 countries all over the world, our work is expanding on rivers of the United States," DeGeus says. "Farmers probably don't know much about us or our goals unless we're involved in a local project, and then they see we have mutual goals," he adds.