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5/10/2013 12:40:00 AM
NRCS Announces Watershed Opportunity

Conservationist Gary O'Neill announced the expansion of the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) in Oklahoma. The NWQI is committed to improving the water quality in selected impaired waterways in Oklahoma. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer a second signup opportunity in four selected watersheds and will add another watershed, Camp Creek, in Payne and Pawnee Counties. "The Camp Creek Watershed was added to assist producers who are interested in implementing conservation practices to improve water quality and quantity in this watershed which feeds Lone Chimney Lake in Pawnee County," Mr. O'Neill said. "This initiative is a focused approach in areas facing significant natural resource challenges. It bolsters the positive results of landscape conservation initiatives NRCS and its partners already have underway."

Through this effort, eligible producers in selected portions Garfield, Noble, Pawnee, and Payne Counties within the selected watersheds will invest in voluntary conservation actions to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities. The selected watersheds were identified with help from state agencies, partners, and the NRCS State Technical Committee.

Using funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide financial assistance and technical advice to producers to install conservation practices such as grade stabilization structures, cover crops, filter strips and prescribed grazing in watersheds with impairments where the federal investment can make a difference to improve water quality.

"Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers 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," said NRCS Acting District Conservationist , Kim Ehlers. "We look forward to collaborating with producers in these key watersheds to help them have a positive impact on streams with impaired water quality."

The key watershed for this area will be portions of the Black Bear Creek watershed including Panther Creek, Oak Creek, and Camp Creek Creek in Noble, Pawnee, and Payne Counties. These watersheds are all on the list of impaired waters in Oklahoma. Sediment, nutrient, and pathogen deposition have contributed to this impairment in the past and this initiative will encourage practices which should reduce agricultural contributions to this impairment.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year, however, only those applications received by June 24, 2013 will be considered for funding at this time.

Remember to check with the USDA Service Center in Stilwater to see if you are located in one of the selected watersheds. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results and begin developing contracts with selected applicants this spring.

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