The Mississippi River Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) has opened up many new opportunities for The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky and our partners. In fact, thanks to this new source of conservation funding, we are providing cash match for a large project where some non-typical, enhanced restoration will be implemented and showcased for future work throughout the Mississippi River Basin.
This opportunity has emerged at a parcel located in Ballard and Carlisle counties. The 800 acres comprising the Fickey MRBI Project were enrolled into the WRP program in 2013.
“We have committed a five percent cash match towards the Fickey MRBI project, roughly equal to $137,000,” says Cadell Walker, the Conservancy’s Director of Philanthropy in Kentucky. “These funds will be used to restore portions of the property; we also expect some additional administrative costs to be incurred.”
Support this work today! Contribute towards the match required to complete this ground-breaking project.
Larger than the average WRP easement, the Fickey MRBI Project falls under the category of “degraded wetlands” per eligibility guidelines. In this case, it means that the hydrology of the area has been manipulated by ditches and levees that have compromised the ecological function of the site.
“Specifically, the Mayfield Creek dredge ditch bisecting the property, along with a number of other smaller ditches, drain the land and reduce the ability of surrounding wetlands to function properly,” says Shelly Morris, the Conservancy’s Western Kentucky Project Manager.
According to Morris, although the manipulation is extensive, much can be done to significantly restore the site’s hydrology and improve wetland function, including reconnecting a portion of the historic Mayfield Creek channel with the dredge ditch to increase ground water and slow the rate at which surface water leaves the area. Other actions will include planting trees, shrubs and native grasses in the row crop fields and in other areas of the degraded wetland portion of the site.
“This type of restoration activity is not typical for a WRP project,” adds Morris. “But the Fickey MRBI Project offers an excellent opportunity to do large scale, hydrologic restoration project that will provide long-term benefits to the region while serving as a showcase for future work in the Mississippi River Basin.”
MRBI In June 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced $14.4 million in new funding targeted at 19 projects in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. Through the new Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), the NRCS is working with partners like the Conservancy in these states to provide technical and financial assistance to landowners promoting water quality, restoring wetlands and enhancing wildlife habitat in ways that still preserve what equates to the nation’s most productive agricultural landscape. MRBI funds will be directed to priority small watersheds through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP).