The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made $17.5 million available for wetland conservation on agricultural grounds. This agency news release says USDA is now looking for voluntary partners who want to protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on the farmland.
“USDA has leveraged partnerships to accomplish a great deal on America’s wetlands over the past two decades, [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack said. “This year’s funding will help strengthen these partnerships and achieve greater wetland acreage throughout the nation.”
Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s Wetland Reserve Easement component. It is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Under WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with USDA through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with willing tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. WREP was created through the 2014 Farm Bill and was formerly known as the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program.
Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. The voluntary nature of NRCS’ easement programs allows effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to the local and rural communities where the wetlands exist.
Proposals must be submitted to NRCS state offices by July 31, 2015.