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To encourage landscape-scale environmental improvement through optimal targeting of conservation funds, we engage in the following activities:

  • Assess existing targeting efforts: WRI assessed how well designed the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative is to target conservation funds.

  • Estimate potential for increased cost effectiveness: WRI, in collaboration with the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP) Team conducted a national modeling study to illustrate the potential cost savings and increased environmental benefits that targeting can provide.

  • Analyze options for overcoming barriers to targeting: WRI identifies barriers to targeting existing conservation funding and discusses options for how they might be overcome to yield landscape-scale environmental outcomes more cost effectively.

  • Conduct pilot projects developing alternative funding mechanisms: WRI has run pilot projects exploring innovative conservation practice funding mechanisms that pay for performance, such as reverse auctions, in which farmers bid for a limited amount of funding, and awards are given to the bidder who can reduce the greatest amount of pollution runoff for the lowest cost.

  • Conduct pilot projects for developing nutrient reduction assessment tools: WRI is partnering with the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research to calibrate USDA’s Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT) for use by farm producers in the state of Mississippi to identify the most cost-effective practices for achieving specific nutrient and sediment reduction goals.

  • Collaborate with conservation stakeholders: WRI collaborates with federal, state, and local agencies, universities, and other non-governmental organizations to improve policies and programs through policy analyses and tool development.

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