US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a major four-year, $320 million effort to reduce pollutants on the river and its tributaries. That includes working with farmers to improve their conservation practices, with the goal of reducing runoff from fertilizers. Runoff is blamed for creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico which lacks oxygen, and cannot support aquatic life. This year’s dead zone is about three-thousand square miles. It’s one of the smallest in recent years. But environmentalists say there still needs to be an effort to limit the chemicals which enter the Mississippi, which feeds into the Gulf.


AUDIO: NCRS Chief Dave White (MP3 :13)

Natural Resources Conservation Chief Dave White says federal money will be available through competative grants.

The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative. It will fund numerous conservation projects in the states where the river and its tributaries are located. Officials say the cleanup will be announced at a meeting in Des Moines Iowa of a task force created in 1997 to reduce the size of the Gulf’s dead zone.

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