USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Wednesday announced over $700,000 is available to help Pennsylvania agricultural producers improve water quality in selected high-priority watersheds in Bedford and Blair counties through the National Water Quality Initiative. Applications are due April 15.
“Clean water is in everyone’s interest, and the National Water Quality Initiative has been successful because it brings together multiple partners in strategic areas to work towards a common goal,” said Denise Coleman, NRCS State Conservationist in Pennsylvania. “Restoring health to waterways benefits not just farmers, but it also gives their communities safe drinking water and provides healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.”
Pennsylvania selected these three NWQI watersheds for 2016--
-- Upper Kishacoquillas: The Upper Kishacoquillas, or “Upper Kish” watershed is a cold-water fishery in Mifflin County that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Consisting of 58.6 miles of stream, the Upper Kish watershed drains approximately 19,064 acres or 30- square miles of Kishacoquillas Valley, known locally as “Big Valley.” Agriculture (60 percent), forested land (36 percent), developed land (approx. 2 percent), and transitional land (approx. 2 percent) compose the main land use types in this watershed. It has been designated as an impaired watershed by DEP.
-- Beaver Creek and Upper Yellow Creek: Beaver Creek and Upper Yellow Creek are both in the Yellow Creek watershed in Bedford and Blair Counties. Yellow Creek is a tributary in the Juniata River watershed that drains a highly productive agricultural valley locally known as “Morrison’s Cove” or simply “the Cove.” Yellow Creek and the Juniata River are both part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
This area has highly productive limestone soils and many highly productive dairy farms. It has had historical problems with high levels of nitrates in groundwater along with sediment and nutrients in surface water.
A Department of Environmental Protection study shows every tributary in Beaver Creek and Upper Yellow Creek is impaired due to sediment and nutrients from agricultural sources. Yellow Creek is a top trout fishing stream and has also been classified by DEP as a Special Protection/High-Quality Stream.
Since 2012, conservation systems have been placed on over 5,000 acres in priority watersheds in Pennsylvania through NWQI, supported by $3.3 million in USDA investments.
Click Here for the full announcement.For more information and to apply, visit or contact an NRCS Service Center near you.