Watershed funds arrive
WORTHINGTON -- USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Services State Conservationist William Hunt was in Worthington Tuesday morning to present a $245,000 check to the Kanaranzi-Little Rock (K-LR) Watershed District Joint Powers Board. The money will be administered by the local NRCS office to help fund landowner improvements that benefit soil and water quality.
Designated for the watershed through President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the funds are available to landowners who agree to enter into long-term contracts to prevent soil erosion.
Lynn Darling, chair of the K-LR joint powers board, said conservation practices were needed following the flood of 1969 that resulted in "rampant soil erosion and property damage" adjacent to the Kanaranzi Creek. At that time, nearly 200,000 acres of cropland in Nobles and Rock counties were affected.
By October 1981, the K-LR Watershed District was established, and on Nov. 19, 1987, the PL-566 program was introduced to treat 50,600 acres of cropland from excessive erosion. The K-LR joint powers board was established at that time, and included representatives from the K-LR Watershed District, Nobles County Board of Commissioners and the Rock and Nobles Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).
"The project was the first in the nation designed to prevent flooding and erosion by installing conservation practices through long-term contracts with landowners," said Darling.
Since 1987, 124 long-term contracts have been signed with landowners in the K-LR Watershed District to benefit 22,145 acres of land. More than $2.9 million has been spent to fund the improvements.
"The release of the ARRA funding today will continue to support agriculture and improve conservation in Nobles County," said Darling. "It will benefit our rural economy, while at the same time benefit soil and water quality."
In presenting the check to the K-LR, Hunt said the mission of the NRCS is to help people help the land by providing services that protect soil, water and related natural resources on private lands across the nation.
Hunt, who has been State Conservationist since March 1995, said the work that will be done in the K-LR Watershed District as a result of the funding will benefit 2,630 residents either directly or indirectly. In addition, more than seven jobs will be created among land improvement contractors to complete the work.
"President Obama and Secretary (of Agriculture Tom) Vilsack are committed to improving water quality, creating more dependable water supplies and decreasing soil erosion," said Hunt. "This funding will make a difference in the lives of people who live in rural communities such as those in Congressional District 1."
Hunt said funding provided through the ARRA is part of the Obama Administration's plans to modernize the nation's infrastructure, jumpstart the economy and create jobs.
The K-LR Watershed District consists of 198,400 acres in both Nobles and Rock counties. It is anticipated that the money will support approximately 50,000 acres of conservation tillage practices, 6,500 acres of contour farming, 75 miles of terraces, 270 water and sediment control basins, 1,000 acres of grassed waterways or outlets, 1.5 million feet of field borders, 200 acres of pasture and hayland plantings and 200 acres of tree plantings.
"This funding today will accelerate the implementation of these practices," Hunt said.