Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty announced today that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest over $1.1 million in Indiana this year aimed at four new and four existing projects to improve water quality in high priority watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. These projects reduce loss of nutrients and sediment to waters that eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico. “By targeting small priority watersheds within the Mississippi River basin, we are helping farmers to deliver local water quality benefits that contribute to large-scale improvements for the basin as a whole,” Hardisty said. “Water quality is important to everyone and the many partnerships created through this initiative are promising to the future health of these watersheds.”
These projects are funded through NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), which uses several Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), to encourage farmers adopt conservation systems to improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands. Since MRBI’s start in 2009, Indiana NRCS has brought over $11 million in funding to targeted watersheds.
Eligible producers in the previously selected Big Pine Creek watersheds (portions of White and Benton counties), Little Wea Creek watershed (Tippecanoe County), Cicero Creek watersheds (Tipton, Hamilton, Clinton and Boone counties), and Middle Eel watershed (Miami, Wabash, Kosciusko and Wabash counties) can continue to invest in voluntary conservation actions to help provide cleaner water for their communities. Producers in the newly selected watersheds of Big Pine (Benton County) Busseron Creek (Vigo and Sullivan counties), Fish Creek (Owen, Greene, and Monroe counties), and Plummer Creek (Greene County) will also have the opportunity to apply conservation practices to their land.
Findings from a 2013 report by the USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) show that conservation work on cropland in the Mississippi River Basin has reduced the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus flowing to the Gulf of Mexico by 18 and 20 percent, respectively.
To learn more about MRBI or the watershed projects selected in Indiana, visit