Building Capacity for Watershed Leadership and Management in Twelve Mississippi River Basin States

Efficient use of agricultural lands and nutrients is critical for the production of sufficient food, fiber and fuel to supply a growing human population and provide for the designated uses of rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basins and the Gulf of Mexico (MARB). If land and water resources are to maintain their resilience and availability for future generations, rich local knowledge and the best available science and decision-support resources need to be applied toward common resource management goals. To accomplish these goals, leaders engaged in watershed projects as well as leaders from the agricultural sector looking to increase nutrient use efficiency and minimize environmental damage need to combine forces. They need support in learning from one another and applying that learning locally, in their states, and across the MARB.

This project is creating and training a 12-state network to enhance learning among farmer and non-farmer leaders engaged in watershed management across Hypoxia Task Force member states.

The network will draw from existing watershed training programs and successful farmer-led watershed efforts and bring the best of those programs to high priority watersheds in Hypoxia Task Force member states. In addition, the network will:

  • Strengthen relationships among watershed leaders, agricultural leaders, and state and federal agencies addressing nonpoint source pollution to improve implementation of state nutrient reduction strategies
  • Expand the knowledge base by coupling high-quality agricultural and watershed management research with practice-based knowledge of farmers and watershed leaders
  • Improve coordination and delivery of educational programming across much of the MARB

To date, the network has conducted a preliminary needs assessment of watershed training programs and programs that cultivate farmer and farm advisor leadership in increasing nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiency in the 12 HTF states and hosted a Great Lakes to Gulf Watershed Leadership Summit. The Summit was hosted in February, 2018 in Memphis Tennessee and included representatives from across the region who outlined practical approaches for increasing farmer and farm advisor engagement in watershed management and established strategies for increasing conservation practice adoption.

Join the network listerv and stay up to date on project communications and training and engagement programs. To participate, first join the group by sending an email to join-marbwatershedleadership@lists.wisc.edu.