GULF OF MEXICO INITIATIVE EXPANDED TO INCLUDE MIDDLE FISH RIVER IN BALDWIN COUNTY
AUBURN, Ala., March 27, 2013 – USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett today announced a sign-up for the Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI). The initiative is designed to help farmers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas improve water quality and ensure sustainable production of food and fiber.
The Alabama priority watersheds include the Weeks Bay (Upper Fish River and Middle Fish River) in Baldwin County and the Escambia River (Canoe Creek and Pine Barren Creek–Sandy Hollow) in Escambia County, Alabama.
Financial assistance is available to help producers apply sustainable agricultural and wildlife habitat management systems that will focus on reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, and improving wildlife habitat on cropland, pastureland, and hayland. Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis; however applications for 2013 funding must be received by April 14.
Some of the conservation practices include:
Installing grade control structures to stabilize eroding gullies
Implementing precision agriculture to reduce chemical application overlap and protect sensitive environmental areas
Increasing adoption of residue and tillage management, cover crops, and conservation crop rotations to reduce sheet and rill erosion and improve soil organic matter, which will result in cleaner runoff and improved water quality
Planting grass and trees to stabilize eroding areas
Installing cross-fences and watering facilities to facilitate grazing distribution
Controlling cattle access to streams to improve water quality and streambank stability
Planting and managing native plant species to improve wildlife habitat and to assist with restoration of a multitude of declining species
NRCS programs supporting GoMI are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program, and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. NRCS and conservation partners developed this initiative in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and President Obama's call to action to help restore the waters, shores, and wildlife populations along the Gulf Coast. This effort incorporates what the public and communities have requested through their input into the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Strategy to restore the Gulf Coast.
“We are excited to be a part of this locally-led effort to improve the health of the Gulf Coast region.” Puckett said. “Alabama citizens will benefit by enjoying cleaner water, more abundant wildlife, and healthier fisheries produced by this project.”
Interested landowners are encouraged to visit the Alabama NRCS website at http://www.al.nrcs.usda.gov/programs\gomi\gomi.html to view maps to see if their property lies within one of the announced watersheds. For more information about signing up, contact your local NRCS office.