The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the USDA Farm Service Agency in Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau will receive a "Gulf Guardian Award" for 2008. The organizations are being recognized for their joint efforts to assist farmers in reducing nitrates and phosphorous nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico.
The organizations will receive the third place award in the partnership category during the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, held Oct. 29 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, La.
"The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP, was designed specifically to reduce the nutrients from leaving Iowa and having an impact down- stream," says Northey. "Clearly there is more work to be done, but we are making progress. Iowa farmers are committed to protecting the air, soil and water that has made our state so productive."
Iowa recognized for water quality efforts
Iowa farmers who work hard to protect the fertile soils of Iowa and thus preserve water quality are honored with a third place Gulf Guardian Award for 2008 by the EPA, says Northey. "Their efforts to preserve, protect and restore the priceless Gulf of Mexico resources deserve the highest commendation," adds Jimmy Palmer, regional administrator of the EPA Office in Atlanta.
The Gulf Guardian Award recognizes businesses, community groups, individuals and agencies that take positive steps to protect the Gulf, a vital fishing ecosystem. This is the first year Iowa groups have won a Gulf Guardian award.
"Iowa farmers have taken great strides in protecting the watershed through a variety of measures," says Iowa Farm Bureau's Environmental Policy Adviser Rick Robinson. "We believe that constructing more strategic wetlands through the Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program can significantly reduce Iowa nutrients to the Gulf. Currently, we have 72 wetlands and a variety of other conservation measures which have reduced nitrogen by as much as 38% and phosphorous by up to 58%. Farmers want to do a lot more, and this award recognizes their efforts and reinforces the potential of what can be done voluntarily to protect some of the nation's most valuable, most productive soils and waters."
This is the ninth year of the Gulf Guardian Awards Program. The awards will be presented at the Gulf of Mexico Program's 20th Anniversary Celebration.
The first place winner in the partnership division for 2008 is Dickenson, Texas-the Parks & Wildlife Department/North Deer Island Protection Partnership. Second place in the partnership division - Port of Houston Authority/Clean & Green Program, Houston, Texas. For more information about Iowa farmers' conservation efforts, contact Iowa Farm Bureau at 515-225-5409 or go online at www.iowafarmbureau.com.