Late last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will award $30 million to projects in six states to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands. The projects are being funded under the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Through locally led partnerships like these, USDA is targeting conservation in the places that make sense, allowing us to address local concerns,” Vilsack said. “These projects will improve water quality, prevent flooding, enhance wildlife habitat and meet increasing conservation challenges on over 19,000 acres of wetlands.”
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.
Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, WREP is a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s Wetland Reserve Easement component. Through WREP, which is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements.
NRCS awarded grants for projects in Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska and Tennessee.
For more information on each states projects, click here.