LITTLE ROCK — Farmers and landowners in Benton and Washington counties in Arkansas have until Dec. 20 to submit applications for cost-share assistance through the Illinois River Sub-Basin and Eucha-Spavinaw Lake Watershed Initiative. Applicants can sign up at the Benton and Washington county USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field service centers.

Land treatment and structural practices will be installed on a voluntary basis in the project area using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

"This project is being implemented working with our conservation partners to accelerate conservation treatment and expand their capacity to improve water quality and maintain productivity throughout the basin and watershed," said Mike Sullivan, state conservationist. "Our agency is working to increase the use of conservation systems to encourage other practices which will greatly benefit water quality in the area."

Water quality issues in this area have been identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as high concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments and bacteria. Potential non-point sources of these degrading agents are runoff from land surfaces after application of animal manure and litter as fertilizer on pastures, soil erosion, re-suspension of streambed sediments, and nutrients from poultry production, as well as other livestock farming operations within the area.

More information on the initiative, a map of the area and list of conservation practices is available at

For more information and to submit an application, call the Benton County NRCS office at 479-273-2622, ext. 3; or Washington County NRCS office at 479-442-4160, ext. 3.