NASHVILLE, TN (TN Tribune) — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recently announced the Tennessee Riparian Incentive Program. This program is a ten-year agreement between TDA and TVA, and it will provide incentive payments to streamside landowners to help restore and protect Tennessee waters.

University of Tennessee AgResearch staff and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives joined TDA and TVA at the University of Tennessee Forestry Research and Education Center in Oak Ridge to launch the program and demonstrate seedling planting.

“Improvement and preservation of the quality of Tennessee waters are at the core of our work in TDA’s Land and Water Stewardship Section,” Administrator John McClurkan said. “Offering financial assistance to landowners who take steps to repair watersheds and safeguard water quality is one way we do that. This program will expand over the next ten years and is expected to yield positive results for landowners and the water environment.”

“TVA is proud to stand alongside our partners today and see the first steps in our plans for improving water quality and biodiversity in the Tennessee Valley with thousands of new trees,” TVA Chief Sustainability Officer Rebecca Tolene said. “Improving land by planting trees is a tradition that goes back to our earliest days of TVA. This is a great example of how TVA and our external partners and communities can work together to make sure the Valley remains a wonderful place to visit and to live.”

The Tennessee Riparian Incentive Program is a statewide program, starting with efforts in the Clinch and Powell River Watersheds, two of the most aquatically diverse, freshwater ecosystems in the world. Streamside landowners in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, and Union counties are eligible to apply now. The long-range plan is to expand this program to other watersheds across Tennessee where the water quality is impaired due to a lack of riparian forest buffers.

Landowners who qualify are encouraged to apply through USDA Farm Services Agency for the Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Signup. Interested streamside landowners should contact their county USDA Service Center or Soil and Water Conservation District office to apply. TVA’s financial support will be used for a one-time per-acre incentive payment to the landowner once trees are planted.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s mission is to serve all the citizens of Tennessee by providing options for responsible use of our agricultural and forest resources, developing economic opportunities, safeguarding food and fiber, and ensuring equity in the marketplace. Today’s TRIP launch and strategic tree planting is an approach to further healthy environments through the One Health Initiative. One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral approach to address health challenges that affect people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.