State Conservationist Ivan Dozier recently announced the launch of a new Water Quality Initiative committed to improving three impaired watersheds in Illinois. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will manage the initiative by making financial assistance available to farmers and forest landowners in the priority watersheds.
"With the help of our partners, we've selected three watersheds that are impaired but well positioned and ready to make critical changes that will significantly improve water quality," Dozier explains.
- Douglas Creek Watershed, 14,300 acres in St. Clair County
- Crooked Creek-Bon Pas Watershed, 33,266 acres in parts of Richland, Wabash, Edwards, & Lawrence Counties
- Lake Vermilion Watershed, 17,656 acres in Vermilion County
Through this effort, eligible producers can invest in voluntary conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities. Using funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to producers for implementing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and nutrient management plans in watersheds with impairments where focused federal investments can make a difference in improving water quality.
"American farmers are good stewards of the environment, especially when they have the tools they need to protect or improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality," says NRCS Chief Dave White. "We look forward to collaborating with producers in key watersheds to help them have a positive impact on streams with impaired water quality."
All three Illinois watershed areas are of modest size and include diverse landscapes and land uses. Watersheds include working farmland, grazing land, private homes, and community areas used by the public for businesses, tourism, and other land uses.
The Illinois sites cover more than 65,000 acres and include a variety of valuable water sources and creeks, wildlife and aquatic species, trees and forested areas, as well as soil and other natural resources. All three sites have been identified as impaired with degraded water quality issues in need of attention.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be one ranking period for the Water Quality Initiative on June 15, 2012. NRCS will rank all submitted proposals for funding consideration. This summer, NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.