Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes Wednesday announced that the White River, along with its watershed, has been named the nation’s second National Blueway. A ceremony with several government officials was held in Little Rock, Ark., to make the announcement and talk about river conservation efforts.
“The National Blueway designation recognizes that strong, diverse partnerships are the best way to address the modern-day threats to our nation’s most important rivers, and the White River is an outstanding example of that approach,” said Hayes.
“The resources made available through this designation will support and promote needed conservation efforts and bolster valuable economic growth and job creation in years to come,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
In May 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar established the National Blueways System, a new designation for rivers and watersheds of national significance designed to promote and conserve the economic, recreational, and natural values of healthy river systems from source to outlet and across watersheds. At the May announcement Salazar designated the Connecticut River Watershed—covering areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut—as the nation’s first blueway.
According to government officials, the designation does not establish a new protective status or regulation, but rather is intended to recognize and support existing local and regional conservation, recreation and restoration efforts by coordinating ongoing federal, state and local activities.
The White River National Blueway was nominated for this designation by 26 diverse stakeholder groups from federal government level to local businesses. In support of the new White River National Blueway, senior leaders from partnering federal agencies announced new projects that will enhance the river’s natural resources and create economic opportunities for the region.
One commitment from the USDA for FY 2013 is $22 million to soil and water conservation in counties located within the White River Watershed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Approximately $13 million of those funds will be directed to pasture land to provide soil and water conservation needs that arose from the drought in 2012.
Other projects are being funded from the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
The White River flows more than 700 miles from its headwaters in the Ozarks to its mouth at the Mississippi River draining 17.8 million acres in Arkansas and Missouri as its flows. It flows through a large area of wildlife and recreational land.
A copy of the secretary’s Order Number 3321 establishing the National Blueways System, can be read by clicking here.