SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Water Quality Initiative, now in its seventh year, focuses resources in watersheds most in need and where farmers and forest landowners can use conservation practices to make a difference. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest more than $30 million this year in 201 high-priority watersheds across the country through the initiative. New Jersey has three watersheds targeted by this initiative for 2018, and the $375,000 allocated for New Jersey will help landowners in in the Upper Salem River, Upper Alloway Creek, and Upper Cohansey River watersheds improve water quality while strengthening agricultural operations.
Applications received by Feb. 16 will be considered for FY18 funding. Interested landowners should contact the USDA-NRCS Woodstown office, 51 Cheney Road, Suite 2, Woodstown, NJ 08098, 856-769-1126, ext. 3 or the USDA-NRCS Vineland office, Building 5, Suite A, 1318 South Main Road, Vineland NJ 08360, 856-205-1225, ext. 3. Applications for NRCS conservation programs are taken on a continuous basis; applications periods are established so applications can be ranked and contracts awarded.
“Watershed studies have shown that targeting conservation on vulnerable acres leads to greater water quality improvements,” said Carrie Lindig, NRCS State Conservationist in New Jersey. “This latest investment focuses on small watersheds, where we have opportunities to work with partners and farmers to accelerate conservation efforts and deliver real results for communities downstream.”
Through NWQI, New Jersey farmers and forest landowners can receive one-on-one personalized advice and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to address a broad range of natural resource concerns, including water quality.
Conservation systems include practices that promote soil health, reduce erosion and lessen nutrient runoff, such as cover crops, reduced tillage and nutrient management; waste management systems that treat agricultural waste and livestock manure; and irrigation systems that conserve water. These practices not only benefit natural resources, but enhance agricultural productivity and profitability by improving soil health and optimizing the use of agricultural inputs.
NRCS will provide resources for projects to leverage existing plans, data and information, and fill gaps needed to complete watershed assessments and develop outreach plans. NRCS works closely with conservation partners and state water quality agencies to select watersheds where on-farm conservation can deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.
Since 2012, NRCS has worked with 36 producers in New Jersey to adopt conservation practices on more than 7,150 acres in these priority watersheds through NWQI. For more information, visit the NJ NRCS website at www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov. Navigate to the National Water Quality Initiative page from the home page by selecting Programs, Financial Assistance, Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service