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NRCS Accepting Apps to Improve Big Pine Watershed Quality
Indiana Ag Connection - 07/10/2019

Jerry Raynor, state conservationist for Indiana's USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced they are accepting applications to improve water quality in the Big Pine watershed located in northwest Indiana.

Dollars are available for farmers through the Big Pine Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The Big Pine watershed covers almost 210,000 acres in western Indiana which includes portions of Benton, White, Warren, and Tippecanoe counties. The partnership is working with farmers in the area to increase the number of nutrient and sediment reducing practices on cropland. While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, August 9 will be the cutoff date this year to be considered for funding for this partnership project.

Raynor said the Big Pine RCPP, administered by NRCS funded by Farm Bill Program dollars, helps landowners adopt conservation enhancements that improve water quality within the watershed. This sign up is for financial assistance through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Previous funding for this project was available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The Big Pine RCPP is focusing their conservation efforts on soil health practices like planting cover crops and nutrient management, which included managing the amount, source, placement and timing of plant nutrients and soil amendments. Conservation practices like these reduce the amount of nutrients flowing from farm fields into waterways, curb erosion and improve the resiliency of agricultural lands during times of extreme weather.

RCPP is a partner-led program, with NRCS directing technical and financial assistance to priorities identified by partners. Partners involved in Indiana's Big Pine watershed project include The Nature Conservancy, Ceres Solutions Cooperative, Land O'Lakes, Winfield United, Conservation Technology Information Center, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and NRCS. The group has also engaged agronomy retailers to further conservation efforts in the area.

"This project is a great example of public, private and non-profit organizations working together to solve local problems," said Raynor. "The group is addressing critical issues in the watershed like water quality and soil quality. By targeting RCPP dollars and leveraging partner resources, we can make a greater impact on the health of waterbodies in the Big Pine watershed and downstream."

While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, all applications for this round of funding consideration must be received by Aug. 9.

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