Date: Mon, 07/12/2010 Contact: Wade Biddix, 804-287-1675 July 12, 2010, Richmond, VA – USDA NRCS has approved $32,000 in funding to expand ongoing partnership activities with Trout Unlimited (TU) aimed at restoring native brook trout habitat in priority springs within the Shenandoah Valley. Authorized through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CBWI-CCPI), NRCS funds will be leveraged with $119,500 in private contributions to conduct targeted outreach to landowners with operations on four spring-fed creeks in Augusta, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Frederick counties. The Shenandoah Valley contains some of the most productive agricultural counties in the Commonwealth. Water quality has been degraded over time with unlimited livestock access to stream channels. The absence of streamside vegetation has increased the amount of sediment entering the channel, adversely affecting trout spawning grounds and feeding sources. It has also caused water temperatures to rise. Landowners in the 151-square-mile project area of Briery Branch, Mossy Creek, Opequon Creek (Redbud Run), and Cedar Creek will be encouraged to enroll in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). They can receive assistance through this program to install conservation practices such as livestock exclusion fencing, buffers, and "fish friendly" stream crossings to reduce summer water temperatures and eliminate stream sedimentation. Landowners must sign up by August 15, 2010 at their local NRCS office. "Trout Unlimited has a strong resume of working with private landowners and agricultural producers to achieve our conservation goals," says NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker. "Their experience working with state and federal agencies and acquiring necessary funds saves the landowner time and results in a quality project." NRCS field staff will work with TU's Shenandoah Coordinator Seth Coffman, to provide technical and financial assistance for implementing these practices and evaluating their effectiveness. This five-year project will not only help to advance Chesapeake Bay water quality goals outlined in President Obama's Executive Order 13508 but also advance the goals of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture. To learn more about CCPI, contact your local NRCS office or visit the NRCS website at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov.