USDA announces easements purchases on 24,000 acres in the Northern Everglades Watershed

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Aug. 11- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $100 million in financial assistance to acquire permanent easements from eligible landowners in four counties and assist with wetland restoration on nearly 24,000 acres of agricultural land in the Northern Everglades Watershed.


This is the largest amount of funding Florida has ever received for projects in the same watershed through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in a single year. The wetland restoration will reduce the amount of surface water leaving the land, slowing water runoff and the concentration of nutrients entering the public water management system and ultimately Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.


Together we can feed the Bees/div>
“Protecting and restoring the Northern Everglades is critical not just to Floridians, but to all Americans,” said Vilsack. “Today's announcement demonstrates the Obama Administration's strong commitment to conserve our national treasures, enhance the quality and quantity of our water, and secure the economic opportunities afforded by a healthy Everglades ecosystem. This announcement would not be possible without our local conservation partners and our relationship with private landowners who play a critical role in restoring wetlands and protecting wildlife in this unique habitat.”


Vilsack also participated in a signing ceremony with A.J. Suarez of Hendry County Nursery Farms-a landowner who will benefit from the funding. Suarez signed an agreement with USDA to start the process to acquire the easement rights to 3,782 acres. After the signing ceremony, Vilsack toured the 550-acre Winding Waters Natural Area, a site restored with $1.5 million from WRP in 2007. The nature area, owned by Palm Beach County, is home to bird species such as little blue heron, snowy egret and great egret, white ibis and Florida sandhill crane. It also contains large areas of pine flatwoods, Cyprus forests, freshwater marshes and wet prairies.

Under WRP, landowners sell development rights to land and place it in a conservation easement that permanently maintains that land as agriculture and open space. USDA plans to purchase these permanent easements from eligible private landowners and assist with wetland restoration in Glades, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee Counties. The easements will help form a conservation corridor from the Kissimmee River to Everglades National Park.

USDA has provided a total of $189 million in WRP funding during the past two fiscal years to help farmers protect and restore wetlands in the Northern Everglades. Last fiscal year, USDA obligated $89 million through WRP to acquire easements on almost 26,000 acres of land in the Fisheating Creek Watershed, located in remote Highlands County. Four landowners on five adjoining ranches enrolled the nearly 26,000 acres into the program, making it one of the largest contiguous easement acquisitions in WRP's history. An additional 12,000 acres were acquired through WRP in other counties, bringing the total potential acres acquired since 2010 to more than 60,000.

For information about WRP, please visit Click on Programs and Services on the left side of the page. Click on Alphabetical Listing of Programs and scroll down to the Wetlands Reserve Program.


For more news stories, go to

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus
 Most Popular

interview WITH:

Ed Hamberger, Pres. American Association of Railroads

Ed Hamberger, Pres. American Association of Railroads

This week's guest on Open Mic is Ed Hamberger, President and CEO of the American Association of Railroads. In this week's interview Hamberger discusses the longstanding relationships between agriculture, railroads and feeding the world. But the industry is facing economic and regulatory challenges that could negatively affect the rail industry and its customers. The AAR supports expanded global trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is hopeful a new Congress can bring needed change to corporate tax laws.

Support ZERO-FOR-ZERO Sugar

click to NGFA website click Soy Transportation Coalition click to U.S. Grains Council website click to National Corn Growers Association website
Knowledge empowers higher understanding