Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the establishment of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program will provide $9 million to help states, local governments or other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks that restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems, broadening the conservation options available to farmers and ranchers.
“This is an important opportunity for us to focus on critical efforts and conservation across the United States. Our producers, farmers and ranchers need tools to have the flexibility to do what is right for their operations, but at the same time to do what’s right for the environment,” Vilsack said.
Wetland mitigation banking is commonly used to compensate for wetland impacts from development, but can also be used to offset impacts from agriculture. Vilsack explained, “One such tool is a mitigation bank where producers can purchase credits generated from previously drained wetlands, which are restored and approved for wetland mitigation, to offset the loss and benefits where producers are installing new drainage in a wetland.”
NRCS is seeking applications from eligible third-parties to develop wetland mitigation banks, or modify existing banks to better serve agricultural producers. The maximum award provided is up to $1 million. This funding may be used to cover the administrative and technical costs associated with the development of a wetland mitigation bank or banking program. Funding may not be used to purchase an easement or any other interest in land.
USDA is now accepting project proposals for this program. Proposals are due to NRCS before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 28, 2016. The announcement and associated forms for this funding opportunity can be found at www.grants.gov.
Listen to the rest of Secretary Vilsack’s announcement here: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/usda-vilsack-wetlands-16.mp3″ text=”Secretary of Ag Vilsack”]
Read the full release here.