The USDA is awarding $44.6 million through its Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership to support 10 projects in 12 states on private tribal agricultural lands. Receipts are providing matching funds totaling more than $4.3 million. In total, the projects will help to protect, restore or enhance 15,000 wetland acres in critical watersheds across the United States.
“USDA is committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s wetlands, which are critical to the quality of our nation’s waters, wildlife and landscapes,” said USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By collaborating with private partners at the local and regional level, USDA is able to support innovative conservations solutions and expand the amount of dedicated resources. These are high impact projects that will ensure our land and water resources are healthy now and for the next generation.”
States with projects that were awarded funds includes Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.
Wetland reserve easements help landowners reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, enhance and protect wildlife habitat and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. The voluntary nature of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) easement programs allows effective integration of wetland restoration on agricultural land, 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.
Since 2009 private landowners, tribes and entities like land trusts and conservation organizations have enrolled nearly 1.3 million acres in NRCS wetland easement programs for a total NRCS investment of $3.2 billion in financial and technical assistance.