USDA lends $33M to local watersheds for water improvement

Out of the 197 watersheds in the country, four in Nevada were chosen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest $33 million to help landowners improve water quality through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

The chosen watersheds are located in Sheckler Reservoir, Stillwater Marsh, Soda Lake-Carson River and South Branch-Carson River — all in Churchill County. Ray Dotson, NRCS state conservationist in Nevada, said watersheds in the Carson River area have a great opportunity to receive technical and financial assistance to address water quality concerns.

“This is really an exciting time for these agricultural landowner and land managers to voluntarily improve their land, while improving the environment,” he said.

The NWQI helps farmers and ranchers implement voluntary conservation practices, such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces and buffers, which protect and improve water quality where it’s needed most. Conservation practices enhance agricultural productivity and profitability while also improving water quality by enhancing soil health and optimizing the use of agricultural inputs.

In Nevada, NRCS will provide resources for the watersheds to leverage existing plans, data, and information, and fill gaps needed to complete assessments and develop outreach plans.

The goal of the NWQI is to implement conservation practices within a local area to protect water bodies within priority watersheds. NRCS works closely with conservation partners and state water quality agencies to select watersheds where on-farm conservation can deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.

Overall, NRCS added 42 new watersheds to the NWQI and selected 21 watersheds for new assessment projects. These assessment watershed projects span 17 states and include a variety of land uses and water quality issues.

For an interactive look at USDA’s work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit


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