The following is a statement from Michael Reuter, Central U.S. Senior Director of Conservation Strategies for The Nature Conservancy:
The Nature Conservancy welcomes the news of the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative and applauds the USDA and Secretary Tom Vilsack on the foresightedness of implementing this effort. The USDA's National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), with its multi-local presence and great record of service to American agriculture is the right agency to implement a voluntary, incentive-based program.
The Mississippi River is both a national treasure and a national icon. Developing a 12-state program to help protect clean water and wildlife habitat in the context of healthy agricultural systems is the right approach.
NRCS Chief Dave White’s interest in collaboration through the agency’s Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative to leverage existing conservation programs and grants and apply and monitor innovative solutions at this scale within specific watersheds is very progressive.
Cooperative partnerships of agencies, organizations and producers reinforced through a competitive grant process will ensure that the appropriate practices will be applied in the right places to have the greatest conservation benefit. Monitoring of outcomes will ensure that we improve through adaptive management for the benefit of the Mississippi River watershed. The Nature Conservancy is proud to be a part of this effort that provides the opportunity to continue our long-standing commitment to creative collaboration and partnership.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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