The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 4, 2013

Water initiative expanded in Oklahoma


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) has been expanded in Oklahoma.

NWQI is committed to improving water quality in selected impaired waterways in Oklahoma, said Gary O’Neill, state conservationist. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer a second sign-up 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,” O’Neill said. “This initiative is a fo-cused approach in areas facing significant natural re-source challenges. It bolsters the positive results of landscape conservation initiatives NRCS and its partners already have under way.”

The watersheds selected for Oklahoma include portions of Sand Creek and Turkey Creek in Garfield County, as well as portions of Panther Creek, Oak Creek and Camp Creek in Noble, Pawnee and Payne counties. These watersheds are all on the list of impaired waters in Okla-homa. Sediment, nutrient and pathogen deposition have contributed to this impairment in the past and this initiative will encourage practices, which should re-duce agricultural contributions to this impairment.

Through this effort, eligible producers in se-lected 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 district conservationist Michael Sheik. “We look forward to collaborating with producers in these key watersheds to help them have a positive impact on streams with impaired water quality.”

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year, however, only those applications received by June 24 will be considered for funding at this time. Remember to check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results and begin developing contracts with selected applicants this spring.

Since 1935, NRCS’ nationwide conservation delivery system works with private landowners to put conservation on the ground based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests. For more information about NRCS’ programs, initiatives and services in Oklahoma, go to http://www.ok.nrcs.usda.gov/.