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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Dr. Charlie Cooper, Research Ecologist with the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit, National Sedimentation Laboratory, was recently awarded the “Researcher of the Year” Award by the Delta Council at their annual meeting in Cleveland, Mississippi. The award highlights a scientist’s contributions to research that has produced a significant impact on delta agriculture. Normally reserved for scientists that have achievements tied to some aspect of agricultural production or infrastructure, Dr. Cooper was selected because of his 30 years of environmental research in the Mississippi delta and its impact on delta water quality and aquatic habitat improvements.


Dr. Martin Locke, Research Leader, Water Quality & Ecology Research Unit, Oxford, MS, participated in a meeting of the Lower Mississippi River Sub-Basin Committee on Gulf Hypoxia in Olive Branch, MS, September 18, 2007. The meeting was attended by representatives from state environmental regulatory agencies (Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee), EPA, USDA-NRCS, International Plant Nutrition Institute, US Army COE, and USGS. The LMR Sub-Basin Committee was formed to help coordinate implementation of the Action Plan for reducing, mitigating, and controlling hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Locke is ARS' representative for the committee.

Martin Locke, Water Quality & Ecology Research Unit of the National Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, MS, attended the 14th Public Meeting of the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force that convened to review the EPA Science Advisory Board draft report on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The meeting took place on June 12, 2007, in New Orleans, LA. The draft report can be accessed at, and public comments will be accepted until June 29, 2007. Dr. Locke is a member of the Lower Mississippi River Sub-Basin Committee that functions to help coordinate implementation of the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan at the state and sub-basin level.

Dr. Charlie Cooper, Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit, National Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, MS, attended an EPA-sponsored Regional Technical Assistance Group (RTAG) meeting in Decatur, Georgia. The meeting's purpose was to provide guidance to all southeastern states as they prepare new nutrient criteria plans for public water bodies. Dr. Cooper attended as a technical reviewer. EPA Region 4 also provided a TMDL workshop for participants.


July 21-25, 2007, Drs. Robert Cullum, Scott Knight, Martin Locke, and Doug Shields of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit attended the 2007 Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference held near Tampa, FL. They made various presentations related to research activities in the Beasley Watershed, a part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP). The annual USDA-ARS CEAP workshop was held in conjunction with the conference.

April 23 -27, 2007, Drs. Doug Shields and Scott Knight (Water Quality & Ecology Research Unit, Oxford, MS) attended the 2nd National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration in Kansas City, Missouri, and presented three papers, Restoration of Backwater Habitat Along Floodplain Rivers: Just Add Water, Effects of Contaminated Sediments on Backwater Restoration Project in the Mississippi River Delta, and Effects of Channel Stability on Fish Communities of Northern Mississippi Rivers. These topics fit well with conference themes, as major efforts are underway nationwide in the area of aquatic habitat restoration, accounting for billions in annual expenditures. The announced purpose of the conference was to share information on ecosystem restoration science and on partnering between state, federal and private sector entities to accomplish common restoration goals. The meeting was attended by representatives from the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Geological Survey, US Environmental Protection Agency, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and various state environmental protection agencies, as well as numerous private companies and consulting firms.

April 16 – 20, 2007, Dr. Ronald L. Bingner (Water Quality & Ecology Research Unit and Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, National Sedimentation Laboratory) hosted Fred Theurer and Quan Quan of USDA-NRCS, Beltsville, Maryland; Dan Moore of USDA-NRCS, Portland, Oregon; Frank Geter of USDA-NRCS, Ft. Collins, Colorado; and Olaf David and George Leavesly, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colorado. The visitors are cooperating with National Sedimentation Laboratory personnel in the development of enhanced features within the USDA AGNPS watershed model that will integrate NRCS information technology necessary to create model parameters from NRCS databases and display simulation study results for straightforward watershed application and analysisThis work is important for the development of technology critical to NRCS national needs in watershed conservation planning such as the CEAP project.


Dr. Doug Shields, Water Quality and Ecology Unit, NSL, Oxford, MS was invited to present a lecture and participate in a panel discussion at a special symposium convened in Sacramento, California regarding proposed new federal standards for managing vegetation on flood-control levees. Dr. Shields discussed findings of research he led in the 1980s and early 1990s regarding effects of vegetation on the stability of levees and revetments along the Sacramento River. More recent work by Drs. Simon and Pollen of the NSL on simulating effects of different types of plants on slope stability was also presented. The symposium was attended by about 600 people representing private entities and local, state and federal governments and was covered by the press.

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Last Modified: 9/19/2007