Agricultural landowners and land managers in the 15-county region of the Nueces River basin have the opportunity to receive technical and financial assistance to help protect, improve and enhance their agricultural lands. Through this conservation stewardship, landowners will reduce runoff from their land and helping improve the water quality and quantity that flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces the 2015 NRCS South Texas Land and Water Initiative that will be funded through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) along portions of the Nueces River watershed. NRCS will be working with the Nueces River Authority (NRA), Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT), Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program and Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and private landowners to provide specialists and funding to protect and restore the natural resources that are being threatened at an alarming rate by fragmentation and land disturbances in the Nueces River basin.
The Nueces River basin, associated coastal basins, bays and estuaries comprise about 31,500 square miles of Texas that stretches from the Texas Hill County to the Gulf of Mexico. Counties include Atascosa, Bandera, Bee, Duval, Frio, La Salle, Jim Wells, Live Oak, McMullen, Medina, Nueces, Real, San Patricio, Uvalde and Zavala.
Approximately 60 percent of the Edwards Aquifer recharge comes from the upper Nueces basin and most of the freshwater inflow to the lower Gulf of Mexico comes from the streams. In the 2013 Texas Water Quality Assessment, 49 of the 54 classified water bodies that drain into these basins have documented water quality concerns or impairments. Record drought, land fragmentation, and the land disturbance with oil and gas exploration and production in the Eagle Ford Shale formation, have created the “Perfect Storm” for degradation of natural resources, primarily water quality and quantity.
“With the dedication of EQIP funds and staff to the geographic area encompassing a large portion of the Nueces River basin, land managers will be able to develop a plan tailored to their land and their goals to help them implement and maintain conservation practices that will benefit them now and for generations to come,” said Salvador Salinas, Texas NRCS State Conservationist. “Landowners installing conservation practices not only contribute positively toward water quality and water quantity, but will eventually see the benefits of time saved, and reduced labor and costs as well as increased production.”
A conservation plan is a written record of your management decisions and the conservation practices and system you plan to use and maintain on your land. Carrying out your plan will achieve the goals of protecting the environment on and off your property. All NRCS services and programs are voluntary and offered to agricultural landowners without a fee.
For more information about getting a conservation plan on your property, contact the local USDA-NRCS office or visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov for more information.
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