Conservation Funding from National Water Quality Initiative Available for Cottonwood Creek

Landowners and producers in the Cottonwood Creek watershed in Saunders County once again have the opportunity to apply for cost-share funds from the National Water Quality Initiative sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Cottonwood Creek is one of four watersheds in Nebraska to be selected for funds from the initiative. Using funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide funding and expertise to producers interested in installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips, terraces, no-till and other erosion control practices to improve water quality. Landowners and operators have until May 3 to apply for funds for this fiscal year.

“NRCS has been working to provide voluntary, incentive-based conservation assistance to Nebraska landowners. That has included working with partner agencies to help landowners and operators improve and protect watershed health. The National Water Quality Initiative will carry on the tradition of this partnership effort that has been highly effective in Nebraska,” NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said.

Through this effort, eligible producers in the selected watersheds will invest in voluntary conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities. The watersheds were identified with help from state agencies, partners, and the USDA State Technical Committee.

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Ralph Pieke, a farmer and chair of the Lower Platte North NRD Board, said in his area, no-till farming has made a big difference in improving water quality. “No-till is a shining example of how to control erosion. If you can catch the water where it falls, you have the battle pretty well won,” Pieke said.

NQWI Announcement
Ralph Pieke, Lower Platte North NRD Board Chair (front row, left) and Tom Mountford, NRD Assistant Manager (front row, second from left) were among those in attendance at the announcement of the National Water Quality Initiative for Nebraska.

A variety of conservation practices may be installed through the National Water Quality Initiative. NRCS staff will work with individual landowners to develop a conservation plan to apply practices that work best for their farming operation in each particular watershed.

Interested Saunders County landowners and operators should check with the Saunders County NRCS office (611 Commercial Park Road in Wahoo, 402-443-4106) to see if their farm or ranch is located in the Cottonwood Creek watershed. The deadline to apply for funding for this fiscal year is May 3, 2013.

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