WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Friday the United States Department of Agriculture has agreed to extend the Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (Green River CREP) for eligible contracts for an additional year.

Earlier this year, USDA announced the termination of the program at the end of the current program agreement. In response, Senator McConnell contacted USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on behalf of Secretary Charles Snavely of the Energy and Environment Cabinet for the Commonwealth of Kentucky to request a one-year extension of the program. Friday, USDA informed Sen. McConnell that all eligible contracts that were set to expire on September 30, 2017, would be extended for an additional year, which will allow USDA to work with the state on a long-term agreement for financing the program moving forward.

“The Green River CREP is the most successful conservation program in Kentucky, and I collaborated directly with local, state, and federal parties to see it established,” said Senator McConnell. “I am very proud of its environmental benefits, and I am pleased the USDA agreed to extend it for an additional year while long-term options are evaluated.”

“The Nature Conservancy thanks Senator McConnell for his hard work on this important issue for Kentucky.  CREP has been extremely valuable for water quality and wildlife habitat in the Green River watershed, and we understand the strong local interest in its extension,” said David Phemister, State Director of The Nature Conservancy.

The Green River CREP, established in 2001, covers the following counties in Kentucky: Adair, Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Grayson, Green, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Russell, Simpson, Taylor, and Warren. It currently includes over 97,000 acres dedicated towards the conservation and improvement of water quality and wildlife habitat in the Green River Watershed.

BACKGROUND: Senator McConnell has for years championed the protection and many benefits of the Green River in Kentucky. Last year, Senator McConnell secured a measure in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, which transferred control of inoperable lock and dam infrastructure on the Green River from the US Army Corps of Engineers to state and local entities so they can determine the best use of this infrastructure.

The McConnell provision authorized the disposition of Green River Locks and Dams 3, 4, 5, and 6 and Barren River Lock and Dam 1. The McConnell provision allowed local stakeholders — including the Nature Conservancy of Kentucky — in the Mammoth Cave community to remove Dam 6 on the Green River in an effort to improve safety, restore natural flows and enhance river-based recreation and tourism in the area.

Green River Lock and Dam 3, also known as the Rochester Dam, serves as a vital water source for people and businesses in six counties who for years have sought local control of the infrastructure so it can be repaired and better maintained. The provision Senator McConnell secured provides for the transfer of the Rochester Dam to the Rochester Dam Regional Water Commission.

Also see article posted Aug. 17

Green River CREP contracts won’t be renewed