Buffalo River, Arkansas panel is looking into approximately $5 million in federal funding to aid water quality efforts
As Buffalo River conservation work is still occurring in the middle of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, two multimillion-dollar federal grants supporting water quality projects within the northern Arkansas watershed are up for grabs.
After meeting on a conference call, officials on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Buffalo River Conservation Committee discussed the potential for improvements to unpaved roads and wastewater systems near the Buffalo River.
The committee was created in September, reported the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Two recent federal grants related to improving the watershed have been announced since the Buffalo River committee's last meeting in February. In late February, federal agencies agreed to focus efforts on improving water quality in Northwest Arkansas and southeast Oklahoma. This would be achieved using $2.37 million in funding to the Ozark-Ouachita region.
The work will include fishing, tourism and wildfire mitigation, which will take place in six regional watersheds as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership. The Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest more than $41 million this fiscal year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems on public and private lands, according to the Natural Resources Conservation District.
The USDA announced that the Buffalo River Watershed Enhancement Project will receive close to $2.7 million in funding, reported the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The project will work with landowners in the watershed on conservation practices to improve water quality.
According to Brent Clark, an official with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, Buffalo River communities in Searcy and Newton counties will have more improvement opportunities as a result of the funding. Information on how to sign up and how funding will be distributed will be available in the near future, according to Clark.