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Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) Partner Update. August 9, 2011 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Chief Dave White. Welcome Introductions Opening Remarks. MRBI Overview. Tom Christensen Regional Conservationist – Central.

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mississippi river basin healthy watersheds initiative mrbi partner update

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) Partner Update

August 9, 2011

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

chief dave white
Chief Dave White
  • Welcome
  • Introductions
  • Opening Remarks
mrbi overview
MRBI Overview

Tom Christensen

Regional Conservationist – Central

mississippi river basin healthy watersheds initiative
Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
  • Mississippi River flows 2,300 miles through the heartland to the Gulf of Mexico
  • Watershed provides drinking water, food, industry and recreation for millions of people and hosts globally significant migratory bird flyway
  • Sediments and nutrient loading have contributed to water quality problems throughout river basin
  • NRCS and conservation partners building on past efforts of agricultural producers to address nutrient-loading
mississippi river basin healthy watersheds initiative5
Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
  • FY 2010
  • 12 States
  • 41 Focus Areas
  • FY 2011
  • Added one State (South Dakota)
  • Added two focus areas:
    • One in South Dakota
    • One in Mississippi

Geographic Area:

  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin
  • Current Total
  • 13 States Participating
  • 43 MRBI Focus Area Watersheds
  • 95 Funded Projects
mississippi river basin healthy watersheds initiative6
Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
  • Objective:
    • Improve the health of small watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin – connect to agricultural producers and land users on a local level
  • MRBI Priorities:
    • Reduce nutrient runoff
    • Restore and enhance wildlife habitat and wetlands
    • Maintain agricultural productivity
  • MRBI Uses a Systems Approach
  • Examples of Conservation Practices:
    • Nutrient management
    • Conservation Tillage
    • Erosion control structures
    • Waste storage facilities
    • Cover crops
    • Management of drainage water
funding fy 2010 through fy 2013

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative

Funding – FY 2010 through FY 2013
  • Based on project requests, dedicating $80 million in financial assistance each year
      • Plus associated technical assistance
  • This is in addition to regular NRCS program funding in the Initiative states
  • In FY 2010 and 2011, MRBI used:
    • Conservation Cooperative Partnership Initiative (CCPI):
      • Competitive process through which entities submit project proposals
      • Allows for certain flexibilities
    • Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP)
    • Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
mississippi river basin healthy watersheds initiative8
Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative

Programs used in MRBI:

  • All are voluntary NRCS Farm Bill Programs –
    • CCPI
      • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
      • Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
      • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
    • Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP)
      • Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
    • Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
      • Component of EQIP
progress to date
Progress to Date

Deena Wheby

MRBI Coordinator

Lexington, Kentucky

mrbi 2010 accomplishments
MRBI 2010 Accomplishments
  • 700 EQIP, WHIP, and CSP contracts supporting conservation on private lands for more than $25 million
  • 18 WREP projects for over $4 million in financial assistance
  • 12 CIG projects for about $2.9 million in financial assistance
  • First year of edge-of-field monitoring
mrbi 2011 activities
MRBI 2011 Activities
  • New contracting continues in the 2010 project areas with additional funding of approximately $52 million
  • 19 new projects recently approved that will provide approximately $15 million to new project areas in fiscal year 2011
    • 17 CCPI
    • 2 WREP
  • SWAT Technical Assistance of $4 million
    • Partners matched with $2.4 million
  • New CIG projects to be announced soon
partnerships
Partnerships

Project proposals submitted by:

  • Conservation Districts
  • Watershed Coalitions
  • Planning Commissions
  • State Departments of Agriculture, Land Stewardship, Conservation, and Water Resources
  • Resource Conservation and Development Councils
  • Entities including TNC, Ducks Unlimited, American Farmland Trust, American Corn Growers, Land Trusts, and wildlife groups

Contributing Partners:

  • EPA, USGS, USACOE, ARS, Universities, On-Farm Network, Discovery Farms, and many, many others!
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Need to ensure a focus on the right conservation concerns in the right geographic locations
  • Need to address management of drainage water in concert with other conservation practices
  • Need to strive for both basic and enhanced nutrient management in the right sequence
lessons learned continued
Lessons Learned (continued)
  • Need strategy for and assistance with monitoring and evaluation
  • Need to have the right kind of technical assistance available in the right places
  • Need to promote adaptive management after implementation as vital to sustaining system implementation
  • Need continued growth and refinement of partnerships to address these (and other) issues
response to the lessons learned and next steps for mrbi
Response to the Lessons Learned and Next Steps for MRBI
  • Consistency:
    • Establish greater consistency across states with ranking/funding pools, ranking criteria, payment schedules and conservation practice specifications
  • Focus Areas:
    • Evaluate current focus areas to determine if additional areas are needed to address new opportunities and issues, especially agricultural drainage water management and enhanced nutrient management.
    • Remove focus areas that have shown little or no activity to pursue MRBI projects
response to the lessons learned and next steps for mrbi continued
Response to the Lessons Learned and Next Steps for MRBI (continued)
  • Management of Agricultural Drainage Water:
    • Foster greater adoption of this management system by implementing strategic actions designed to overcome past barriers and limitations, and capitalize on lessons learned.
  • Strategic Watershed Action Teams (SWATs):
    • With partners, establish and implement SWATs to directly assist producers with conservation planning and practice implementation
  • Nutrient Management:
    • Promote adaptive nutrient management strategies to achieve enhanced nutrient management results
response to the lessons learned and next steps for mrbi continued21
Response to the Lessons Learned and Next Steps for MRBI (continued)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation:
    • Seek options for NRCS monitoring and evaluation practice offerings to include simpler, practical edge-of-field techniques
    • Strategic use of edge-of-field monitoring to support CEAP modeling to 12-digit HUC level
    • Continue collaboration with EPA, USGS, and others on monitoring and evaluation to compile consistent data that can be used to express outputs towards nutrient reductions within select MRBI small watersheds
  • Outcomes:
    • Establish clear, achievable, and measurable performance expectations and environmental outcome measures for MRBI
new fy 2011 approved ccpi and wrep projects
New FY 2011 Approved CCPI and WREP Projects
  • 17 CCPI:
    • Arkansas (3)
    • Arkansas/Louisiana (2)
    • Illinois (1)
    • Indiana (1)
    • Iowa (3)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • Missouri (6)
  • 2 WREP
    • Kentucky (1)
    • Iowa (1)
slide23
New FY 2011 Approved CCPI and WREP ProjectsFY 2011 Project Financial Assistance Funding Total $14,404,121
  • CCPI – $9,219,746
  • WREP – $5,184,375
slide24

NRCS’s new webpage!

  • Then look for:
  • Fiscal Year 2011 Approved Projects for MRBI
  • Fiscal Year 2011 MRBI Approved Projects Using CCPI and WREP
  • Fiscal Year 2011 MRBI CCPI and WREP Brief Project Summaries
new fy 2011 conservation innovation grants cig
New FY 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

Gregorio Cruz

Conservation Innovation Grants Manager

Washington, DC

conservation practice standard 799 oversight and evaluation study
Conservation Practice Standard 799 Oversight and Evaluation Study

NRCS management wanted to determine the frequency and type of monitoring and evaluation being used for Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative. An Oversight and Evaluation Study was conducted on Conservation Practice Standard (CSP) 799 during the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 to assess the use of this practice during fiscal year 2010.

Study Objectives

  • Determine if monitoring and evaluation practices were consistent with CPS 799 and guidance.
  • Identify monitoring protocols.
  • Determine lessons learned.

Methodology

  • Reviewed 27 partner agreements and 22 EQIP contracts.
  • Interviewed appropriate NRCS State staff.
  • Assessed CPS 799 and other related policy.
  • Analyzed payment schedules developed.
  • Conducted an inventory of monitoring protocols.
conservation practice standard 799 oversight and evaluation study28
Conservation Practice Standard 799 Oversight and Evaluation Study

Findings

  • The data reviewed did not indicate the participants were always provided specifications or plans for monitoring and evaluation.
  • The guidance provided to States regarding implementation of monitoring and evaluation was inadequate.
  • All States are promoting the use of CPS 799 monitoring and evaluation in context of the approved 12- and 8-digit HUC project focus areas.
  • There was limited coordination between States (NRCS) in the development of the payment schedule.
conservation practice standard 799 oversight and evaluation study29
Conservation Practice Standard 799 Oversight and Evaluation Study

Findings (continued)

  • There was a lack of specificity in the agreements regarding CPS 799 or similar monitoring and evaluation protocols.
  • Agreements and contracts lacked the needed operation and maintenance (O&M) requirements for CPS 799.
  • In some instances, the annual Plan of Work is not being provided by the partner in accordance with the agreements.
conservation practice standard 799 oversight and evaluation study30
Conservation Practice Standard 799 Oversight and Evaluation Study

Recommendations

  • Deliver training and improved guidance.
  • Ensure adequate documentation is housed in contract case file.
  • Explore alternative forms of monitoring and evaluation.
  • Consider:
    • Policy Modifications
    • Lower cost monitoring systems
    • Collecting data for longer periods
  • Develop a Water Quality Index tool for collection of required management data.
conservation practice standard 799 oversight and evaluation study31
Conservation Practice Standard 799 Oversight and Evaluation Study

Recommendations (continued)

  • Coordinate development and review of payment schedules.
  • Develop an overarching plan in collaboration with other agencies and partners.
  • Incorporate and address issues identified by States into training and policy guidance.
  • Develop templates, examples and other aids.
  • Ensure States are receiving, reviewing and approving or disapproving Plan of Work (POW).
conservation practice standard 799 oversight and evaluation study32
Conservation Practice Standard 799 Oversight and Evaluation Study

Actions

  • Less expensive monitoring systems being considered
  • Job sheets under development
  • Training has been provided to MRBI states
  • February 11, 2011, memo to clarify use of CPS 590 for nitrate and tissue testing
  • Collaboration with State-level EPA agencies
  • Exploring EQIP policy that limits payments to 3 years
  • Data coordination team to compile data
  • CPS 799 payment schedules will be reviewed
monitoring and evaluation collaboration with epa usgs ars and other partners
Monitoring and Evaluation Collaboration with EPA, USGS, ARS, and Other Partners

Troy Daniell

Conservation Initiatives Coordinator

Washington, DC

mrbi water quality monitoring strategy
MRBI Water Quality Monitoring Strategy
  • Need was identified to be more consistent with protocols and complementary with efforts
  • Collaborate with EPA, USGS, USACOE, and ARS on monitoring a subset of 12-digit HUCs
  • Seek opportunities to work closer at State and Regional levels
selection of mrbi watersheds for collaboration
Selection of MRBI Watersheds for Collaboration

Screening Criteria

  • Existing monitoring baseline and long term data and reasonable expectation of continued monitoring (Agencies, Universities and Partners)
  • Proximity to USGS gauging stations
  • NRCS funded projects planned for edge-of-field monitoring per CPS 799
  • 319 projects – nutrient related
  • Nutrient 303d listed waters
  • Areas where high levels of conservation systems are being implemented
  • Potential for comparisons of before and after data
  • Willing landowner participation
  • Partners able and willing to do monitoring
selected 15 mrbi 12 digit hucs
Selected 15 MRBI 12-digit HUCs
  • Arkansas: L’Anguile and Point Remove
  • Iowa: Boone River
  • Minnesota: Sauk
  • Missouri: South Fork Salt, North Fork Salt, and Lower Grand
  • Mississippi: Big Sunflower
  • Wisconsin: Upper Rock
next steps
Next Steps
  • NRCS facilitated a webinar among the Federal, State and local partners to discuss consistent methods and protocols for monitoring as well as the need to make aggregated data available in the future to plug in to water quality models
  • Work with the Federal and State agencies as well as NGOs to coordinate funding opportunities that would help increase the density of monitoring within the selected watersheds and to increase the longevity of the monitoring.
adaptive nutrient management
Adaptive Nutrient Management
  • A very productive meeting with partners on July 28 to discuss what is being done on adaptive nutrient management in the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes states, discuss what is working, identify challenges, and discuss how to move forward by clarifying what the states need from NRCS national headquarters and partners.
  • Goal of the session was to develop an action plan and timeline for moving adaptive nutrient management forward through NRCS activities in collaboration with partners in UMR and Great Lakes states.
adaptive nutrient management39
Adaptive Nutrient Management

Needed actions identified during the meeting:

  • Create adaptive management work team to further flesh out and document work plan, timeline, and goals
  • Develop or provide assistance to states for payment schedules and job sheets they can use for FY12, with the longer term goal and work on regional payment schedules to move ahead.
  • Develop action plan/strategy for education of NRCS state resource conservationists and technical staff (likely 2-3 states at a time)
  • Develop plan for greater engagement of NRCS National Technical Support Center staffs as well as industry (fertilizer dealers, technical assistance providers, etc.)
  • Schedule a briefing for Chief White and Ann Mills on adaptive management
  • Advance a dialogue on future of 799 standard and possible role for 799 in adaptive management
  • Identify how to advance adaptive management through Conservation Action Plan – in addition to 590
application of agricultural drainage water management
Application of Agricultural Drainage Water Management

Paul Sweeney

Senior Project Leader

Office of the Regional Conservationists

Bismarck, North Dakota

strategic watershed action teams swat
Strategic Watershed Action Teams (SWAT)
  • NRCS provided $4 million for the establishment of SWATS in MRBI ($20 million across 9 initiatives)
  • Provide planning and implementation assistance, outreach, etc.
  • Must have partner matching funds
  • SWAT staff will not be federal employees
  • MRBI’s $4 million will be matched by almost $2.4 million
  • MRBI will have 126 FTE (over a three year period) – more than 40 full time equivalents per year/each year
  • Account for the most “boots on the ground” from all the initiatives
  • NRCS and partners will have approximately 90 agreements signed for all the initiatives; 23 will be in MRBI.
closing
Closing

Chief Dave White

thank you for your partnership and for your attendance to today s meeting
Thank you for your partnership and for your attendance to today’s meeting!

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