In 2015 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded the Illinois River Watershed Partnership a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant to be used for funding water quality, plant and soil health, wildlife management, and energy efficiency initiatives in the Illinois River Watershed in 2015-2018.  The purpose of the RCPP project is to improve water quality of the Illinois River Watershed while maintaining the food and fiber production in the area.  Click here to listen to our 2 minute IRWP Interview with NRCS Mark Rose National Director Financial Assistance Programs during a visit to the Watershed Sanctuary and Learning Center and tour of the Illinois River Watershed. 

NRCS and its conservation partners plan to further treat and reduce water quality resource concerns through conservation practices which will avoid, control, and trap the nutrients and sediments.  The combination of these kinds of practices both upland from and adjacent to the water bodies will be highly beneficial to the water resources in the area. 

Combining proper manure management, utilization, and transfer practices with nutrient management and soil erosion treatment in a suite of practices is required to reduce nutrient and sedimentation runoff to acceptable rates.  The conservation practices available through NRCS are designed to help control the water quality problems in the initiative area.  Based on Conservation Effects Assessment Project simulation models for other parts of the country, it is estimated this initiative could result in a 17 to 29 percent reduction in sedimentation and nutrient load to water bodies.

Visit the USDA NRCS website to learn more.

For more EQIP Information, contact:

Rhonda Foster, USDA NRCS at 479-521-4520 ext 3 [Washington County]

Mike Whitis, USDA NRCS at 479-273-2622 ext 102 [Benton County]

Dr. Nicole Hardiman, IRWP Executive Director at 479-422-1014



New for 2015 - Funding Available for Illinois River Watershed Landowners

2015 Regional Conservation Partnership Program: Illinois River Watershed Project 

Contact your local NRCS county agent:

Rhonda Foster, USDA NRCS at 479-521-4520 ext 3 [Washington County]

Mike Whitus, USDA NRCS at 479-273-2622 ext 102 [Benton County]


Natural Resource Conservation Service: Conservation Funding Application 2015



The State of Arkansas Illinois River Watershed Conservation Reserve Enhancement Pro­gram (CREP) is a partnership between USDA and the State of Arkansas. The program seeks to enroll 10,000 acres of eligible marginal pastureland and cropland in 15 year contracts within the Illinois River watershed. The project will establish or restore ripar­ian forest buffers and wildlife habitat buffers by planting native grasses, forbs, trees, and shrubs. This CREP project area includes parts of Benton and Washington Counties. The primary goals of the project are to enhance wildlife habitat and improve water in the Illinois River Watershed.

Illinois River Watershed Landowners have an opportunity to enroll in the CREP program from USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the EQIP USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Programs. CREP amendments include a signing bonus of $400 per acre and an increase in eligible acreage to enroll up to the floodplain. Additional information on potential funding sources from the Arkansas State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF), can assist landowners in financing cost share portions to implement eligible CREP and EQIP Best Management Practices.  For more information on the Illinois River Watershed CREP and EQIP programs, click here.  

To download State Revoloving Loan Fund information, click here.  


CREP incentives include:

  • $400.00/acre BONUS for sign up and planting

  • $112.00/acre annual payment

For more CREP information, contact:

Dr. Delia Haak, IRWP, at 479-238-4671

Ted Collins, USDA FSA at 479-571-4520 [Washington County] 

Steve Carter USDA FSA at 479-273-2622 [Benton County] 


CREP Area Map

Click for CREP Information Sheet


Arkansas Conservation Center offers a free one-stop shop for farmers, ranchers & forest owners.

To help offset deep cuts in public conservation funding, Resources First Foundation (RFF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, unveiled a new free resource on May 8, 2012 – the Arkansas Conservation Center. With just three clicks, landowners can now access a database of conservation districts, land trusts, biologists, equipment suppliers, tax consultants and gain access to a vast listing of federal and state programs available to landowners and land managers in Arkansas. Listings and articles describe the mechanics of FSA, NRCS and Forest Stewardship programs, conservation easements or tax credits, and the pros and cons of various options.