Cedar trees on the water at sunset.
Paint Rock River Paint Rock River Valley, Alabama © Hunter Nichols

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The Nature Conservancy and Natural Resources Conservation Service Partner to Restore Alabama Streambanks and Habitats

$1,000,000 award will support restoration work within the Paint Rock River, Big Canoe Creek, and Locust Fork Watersheds

Work will soon begin on a 5-year streambank restoration project with the support of a $1,000,000 award from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Set to begin this summer, the project will restore streambanks and habitats in the Paint Rock River, Big Canoe Creek, and Locust Fork watersheds.

“Alabama has the most biodiverse stream ecosystems in the United States,” said Jason Throneberry, Director of Freshwater Programs for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Alabama. “We are extremely grateful to our incredible partners for their support of conserving our water resources in Alabama.”

The award will support the Streambank Restoration Initiative, which will help restore degrading streambanks and enhance aquatic habitats that have been designated a priority by TNC and other partners. This project is part of the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns.

“I am excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”

Throneberry said the project will allow TNC to use farm bill dollars to complete streambank restorations in priority watersheds.

“The Nature Conservancy will work with farmers and landowners in these watersheds to use natural channel design practices to stabilize banks, diffuse flood water, allow for natural flow regimes to reestablish, and increase instream habitat quality for native aquatic species,” said Throneberry. “Streambank restoration and planting riparian buffers will also help to reconnect the rivers to floodplains, slow surface water runoff and pollution, improve aesthetic property value, and reduce further erosion.”

The target restoration areas are priorities based on scientific data from the Alabama Rivers and Streams Network (ARSN). These watersheds have been designated as Strategic Habitat Units (SHUs) based on water quality data, habitat conditions, and biological assessments. These designations have been made in order to improve water quality and quantity, preserve biotic integrity, and promote restoration efforts for Alabama’s critical waterways. Streambank restoration in these high-quality watersheds would be exponentially beneficial to all agencies involved by amplifying Farm Bill funds and further implementing multi-tiered conservation goals in the state of Alabama.

The project will be implemented through a partnership between NRCS, TNC, United States Fish and Wildlife Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Geological Survey of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.