USDA is making up to $40 million available in technical and financial assistance to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands. Restored wetlands improve water quality downstream and benefit wildlife habitat, while also providing flood prevention and recreational benefits to communities.
Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a farm bill conservation program.
“These locally led partnerships are instrumental in achieving greater wetland acreage and maximizing their benefits to farmers, graziers and the local communities where wetlands exist,” says Kurt Simon, state conservationist in Iowa for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “We see this program as important to helping communities respond to natural disasters, such as this year’s floods. These partnerships can help with addressing croplands that flood frequently and water storage.”
June 14 deadline for proposals
Proposals should be emailed to NRCS at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 14. “Wetlands are an important, yet often overlooked, resource,” Simon says.
Through WREP, states, local units of governments, nongovernmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties.
Wetland reserve easements enable landowners to successfully reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, enhance and protect wildlife habitat, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Partners benefit from WREP by targeting outreach and enrollment priorities supported by NRCS, including places impacted by natural disasters, such as the severe flooding that has impacted Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri.
Improve function of wetlands
The voluntary nature of NRCS' easement programs enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to the communities where the wetlands exist. Easements enable landowners to adopt a variety of conservation practices that improve the function and condition of wetlands.
Partners interested in WREP are encouraged to work with the Iowa NRCS state office in Des Moines as part of developing the proposal. Contact Sindra Jensen at email@example.com or 515-284-4262 for assistance. Proposals must follow ACEP guidelines for wetland reserve easements.
Farmers and forest landowners interested in ACEP should contact their local USDA service center, or visit the ACEP webpage at nrcs.usda.gov.