Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today recognized U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson for their efforts to support conservation in Iowa. Northey presented the awards to USDA and EPA officials during the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force that is meeting in Iowa.
"The success of the conservation programs in Iowa would not be possible without the collaboration and support of our federal partners," says Northey. "Secretary Vilsack and Administrator Jackson provide vital leadership to these federal agencies that are important financial support and technical assistance to our conservation efforts."
Wetlands will work but we need a lot more of them
Northey presented Vilsack with the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture's "Partnership Award" in recognition of USDA's partnership with Iowa in implementing the Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP.
Through the partnership between USDA's Farm Service Agency and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, 72 wetlands have been restored or are under construction or are in design stage, to remove 40% to 70% of the nitrate in the drainage from upperlying croplands in the state. These 72 wetlands act as filters and will treat the drainage from 86,100 acres of watershed in the state--removing 54,000 tons of nitrates over their projected life.
Northey presented Jackson with the Iowa "Science and Collaboration Award" in recognition of EPA's support and funding through a $1 million grant to the Iowa Department of Agriculture for the "Integrated Drainage-Wetland Systems for Reducing Nitrate Loads from Des Moines Lobe Watersheds." This grant has funded work by the department and Iowa State University over the past five years to develop new technologies to reduce nitrate from Iowa croplands affecting Iowa water supplies and reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
New science and technologies developed to help fix environment
This EPA collaboration and funding has fostered the development of new science and technologies for addressing these environmental concerns. A direct outcome is the new technologies and implementation model of the Iowa Drainage and Wetland Landscape Systems Initiative, which Secretary Northey today has announced the commitment of $4 million of bond funds to begin initial pilot demonstrations and assessments.
The awards were presented during the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force meeting that is being held in Iowa on September 23 and 24. The Task Force is made up of members from five federal agencies and 10 state agencies and is working to address the environmental concerns associated with the hypoxia zone, also known as the "dead zone."