Conservation Districts Partner with USDA to Improve the Health of the Gulf CoastTue, 13 Dec 2011 10:17:47 CST
Conservation Districts in the Gulf Coast region are partnering with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on a new initiative to improve the health of the coast. The initiative is part of the Obama Administration's efforts through its Gulf Coast Ecosystem Task Force which today released its final strategy for long-term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf Coast.
"We're excited to be a part of this locally-led, cooperative effort to bring cleaner water, more abundant wildlife, and healthier fisheries to Gulf Coast communities," said National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Gene Schmidt. "Conservation districts have always believed that in order to make a lasting impact for conservation on the ground, it's critical to engage farmers, ranchers, landowners and other local leaders throughout the conservation delivery system. By using this approach in the Gulf Coast, I'm confident that we'll see measurable, long-term improvements in the region."
The new Gulf of Mexico Initiative will focus up to $50 million, over three years, in conservation assistance to farmers and ranchers in priority areas along seven major rivers that drain to the Gulf. The effort includes all five states along the Gulf Coast Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The Gulf of Mexico Initiative was developed in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and President Obama's call to action to help restore the waters, shores, and wildlife populations along the Gulf Coast.
There are approximately 478 conservation districts in the five Gulf Coast states. The Gulf hosts a diverse array of habitats from coral reefs and hyper-saline lagoons to emergent wetlands and vast sea grass meadows. More than 50 percent of the United States' coastal wetlands, approximately 5,000,000 acres, are found adjacent to the Gulf.
For more information on the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, visit the NRCS website.
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