Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative Begins

Release Date: 07/12/2010

 

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has developed the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) to improve the overall health of the basin.  Many activities contribute to nutrient loading in the Mississippi River Basin (MRB), including farming.  Increased nutrients can result in diminished water quality, affecting fish and wildlife habitat locally as well as many miles downstream as exhibited by the hypoxic zone (Dead Zone) in the Gulf of Mexico.   Louisiana is one of twelve river states that was selected to develop systems of practices to improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin (MRB).

Projects were developed by organizations or agencies that have historically worked closely with NRCS.  The projects constitute true partnerships with 11 - 16 partners represented on each project, hence the term cooperative conservation partnership initiative (CCPI) to describe each project.  The NRCS and its partners will help producers within four sub-segments of three watersheds in Louisiana's MRB to voluntarily implement conservation practices that avoid, control, or trap nutrient runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and maintain agricultural productivity.  As such, this program is not a crop retirement program, but rather a working lands program that provides a comprehensive approach to lands management.

A unique feature of this initiative is the required water quality monitoring within the watersheds, thus allowing the objective evaluation of impacts on water quality within the selected areas.  That is one reason the participation areas are limited in size.  Having the focused areas provide the venues for demonstrating effective management of nutrients with the system of practices voluntarily implemented can provide a blueprint for expansion of efforts.

Persons interested in learning more about the MRBI for the Bayou Chene watershed can contact: Mike Perry, Imperial Calcasieu RC&D Coordinator, Bayou Chene project coordinator; for the Bayou Lafourche watershed: Mike Schooler, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Bayou Lafourche project coordinator; and for Upper Joe's Bayou: Donna Remides, Northeast Delta RC&D Coordinator, Upper Joe's Bayou project coordinator.

Areas selected for this multiyear project are within the work areas of three of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' private lands biologists who assist with development of wildlife interests into plans.  Kori Legleu (337-491-2574 orklegleu@wlf.la.gov) will be working with partners on the Bayou Chene watershed.  John Hanks (318-343-4044 orjhanks@wlf.la.gov) will be assisting the various partners delivering the program on the two Bayou Lafourche projects and Cliff Dailey (318-343-4044) or cdailey@wlf.la.gov will be work with participants on the Upper Joe's Bayou watershed.

List of Participants

Important contacts:

Bayou Chene (Lower Mermentau Watershed)

mike.perry@la.usda.gov
Imperial Calcasieu RC&D Coordinator
Bayou Chene Project Coordinator
337-824-0975 ext.5

frank.chapman@la.usda.gov
NRCS District Conservationist
Lake Charles Field Office
337-436-5020 ext. 3

Bayou Lafourche (Boeuf River Watershed)

michael.schooler@la.nacdnet.net 
Office of Soil and Water Conservation
Bayou Lafourche Projects Coordinator
318-387-8683 ext. 19

larry.phillips@la.usda.gov
NRCS District Conservationist
Rayville Field Office
318-728-4451 Ext.3

Upper Joe's Bayou (Bayou Macon Watershed)                            

donna.remides@la.usda.gov
Northeast Delta RC&D Coordinator
Upper Joe's Bayou Project Coordinator
318-435-7328

eran.robinson@la.usda.gov
NRCS District Conservationist
Lake Providence Field Office
318-559-2604 ext.3

For more information, contact Mike Olinde at 225-765-2353 or molinde@wlf.la.gov.

2010-212