TIVOLI, Texas — It took BP PLC's well blowing out in the Gulf of Mexico for the nation to turn its attention to the slow, methodical ruin of the ecosystem that had been happening for years.
Last month, more than a year and a half after the oil spill began, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a three-year, $50 million initiative designed to improve water quality along the coast.
Administrators of the Natural Resources Conservation Service struggled for years to divide a few million dollars among farmers and ranchers in the five Gulf states.
Now, those states are getting an 11-fold increase in funding, money that will allow them to build on low-profile programs that already have had modest success in cleaning crucial waterways by working with farmers and ranchers to improve land use practices.
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