FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 6, 2023
MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Walsh, [email protected]
New Incentives to Improve Water Quality in the Big Sioux Lead to RBI Program Sign-up
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) is working with a diverse group of partners to offer two new incentives and new rates for water quality improvement opportunities in the Big Sioux River watershed through its Riparian Buffer Initiative (RBI).
“South Dakota’s producers are our front-line conservationists, and they know best how to sustainably manage their land,” says Governor Kristi Noem. “These new incentives provide additional options which allow producers to make the best management decisions for their operation, improve water quality, and protect the future for our kids and grandkids.”
The new incentives include:
- New Payment Rates for the Big Sioux River RBI;
- New Big Sioux River Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Buffer Incentives; and,
- New Big Sioux River Animal Waste Management System Incentives.
The program changes have led to immediate success including the recent enrollment of 27.29 acres in the Big Sioux watershed.
“I think RBI is a great program with many benefits,” said Day County producer Aaron Johnson. “The ground I enrolled in RBI and CREP will benefit wildlife, hunting tourism, water quality, land quality, and me financially. It is also a good deal to get the highly erodible ground back in perennial vegetation, especially with such a high-water table in that area.”
Producers who enroll in the RBI Buffer Incentive programs will receive direct payments to install and maintain buffers on eligible lands. Buffers must be a minimum of 50 feet wide and have a maximum average width of 120 feet, may not be harvested or mowed between May 1 and August 1, may not be grazed between May 1 and September 30, and must maintain a minimum of four inches of cover. DANR is partnering with the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks (GFP) to add additional incentives for riparian buffers in areas also participating in CRP and CREP contracts.
“As land stewards, caring for our natural resources on that land from generation to generation is a top priority for growers in South Dakota,” says Scott Stahl, President of South Dakota Corn Growers Association. “Of course, ensuring water quality is a critical component of that. The riparian buffer program is a win for growers and South Dakotans.”
The new Big Sioux River Animal Waste Management System incentive will offer cost sharing for the construction of animal waste management systems to help small and medium sized animal feeding operations effectively manage wastes. Participating producers will need to work through National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and follow all NRCS specifications, have a comprehensive nutrient management plan, and be located within one mile of a stream listed in ARSD 74:51:03:07.
“These programs have considerable benefit,” says Matt Morlock, the South Dakota Pheasants Forever State Coordinator. “Producers will get compensated well for putting environmentally sensitive, low production land into buffers and will have access to financial assistance and technical support to better manage animal waste. This will result in improved water quality and habitat benefits for the public to enjoy.”
For more information about DANR’s Riparian Buffer Initiative please contact Tanner Clausen at 605-362-3559 or Kris Dozark at 605-773-5682.
RBI information is available online at: https://danr.sd.gov/Conservation/WatershedProtection/RiparianBuffer.aspx