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Upper Arkansas WRAPS, CREP meetings set for March


Robert Frisbie, K-State Research and Extension Watershed specialist, Upper Arkansas Watershed, announces the following public meetings to explain the WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy) document coupled with Kansas Water Office/State Conservation Commission CREP discussion. Three locations are planned. You are encouraged to attend the location most convenient for your schedule. The meetings are:

March 3, 6:30 p.m., Ford County Fair building in Dodge City;

March 5, 6:30 p.m., JA Haas Building, Larned; and

March 10, 6:30 p.m., Finney County Fairgrounds Grandstand Meeting Room, Garden City.

Chili will be served at each location followed by a discussion of the programs.

Stakeholder leadership teams have met at these locations over the past 2 years examining critical concerns for the watershed. These concerns have been addressed with goals to address water quality issues in the area.

Persons across the watershed are encouraged to attend, strategies to improve the critical concerns are best management practices that would help to address the identified water quality problems will be explained. The goals identified by the WRAPS are:

--Preservation of a diminishing ground water supply.

--Reduce the mineral concentrations in the Arkansas River and High Plains in support of water quality for domestic, irrigation, and public water supply.

--Reduce E. coli bacteria and nutrients originating from rural and urban areas in surface water.

--Protection and restoration of riparian and buffer areas along the Arkansas River.

The Upper Arkansas WRAPS Committee has partnered these meetings with the Kansas Water Office and State Conservation Commission at each location. Producers will learn more about the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Steve Frost, SCC Water Conservation project manager, will attend all three sessions. Susan Stover, manager KWO High Plains activity, Diane Coe, KWO Upper Arkansas Basin Planner, and Anna Betzen, KWO intern, will attend one or more sessions.

"CREP is an active program for the counties along the Arkansas River. It is a voluntary, incentive based program for producers to enroll irrigated land into CREP. In exchange for a permanent water right retirement on the enrolled acres, and putting the acres into a conservation planting (typically grass) for the life of the 14 - 15 year contract, the participant gets a guaranteed annual irrigated rental payment from $100 to $125/acre, a state upfront payment of $35 or $62/irrigated payment, and a variety of cost share options.

Although there is a permanent water right retirement, irrigation is allowed as needed to establish a permanent vegetative cover. We are committed to helping the producers have successful establishment of a cover.

The program is a state and federal partnership. State payments to producers are a part of our agreement, and require the legislature to move forward any funds not yet obligated in contracts to producers. These funds are from the Colorado payment for past Arkansas River compact compliance damages. We can guarantee any contracts for applications made prior to June 30; after that, it will depend on state funds remaining in the program."

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