Conservationists are celebrating 50 years of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program with an event today in Van Meter. Natural Resource Conservation Service spokesman Jason Johnson says the program is important even for those who have never heard of it. Johnson says people don’t realize that “everybody lives in a watershed.” Federal and state officials commemorate the program’s anniversary today (Wednesday) with a tour of the Badger Creek Watershed which winds through Dallas, Madison, and Warren Counties. Johnson says Iowa was a natural choice for conservationists to reflect on the program’s impact. In Iowa we’ve had 59 different projects over the fifty years so he says it’s such a big part of the program, Washington decided to celebrate it here. Johnson says the program protects more than the state’s NATURAL resources. Just for flood-damage reduction, he says the annual benefit in Iowa in 2003 was almost nine-Million dollars, and nearly eight-Million for water supply, reduced road and bridge repair maintenance and water-based recreation. NRCS Chief Bruce Knight, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge, and Congressman Leonard Boswell will be among those at Wednesday’s ceremonies in Van Meter.
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