USDA announces projects to restore wetlands in five Midwestern states
By Melissa Coon
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
Washington, July 12 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced five projects approved to restore, enhance and protect high-priority wetlands and improve wildlife habitat through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP). WREP, a voluntary conservation program, works with state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Indian tribes to provide financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners.
“Wetlands preservation is a priority at USDA not only because of the role wetlands play in supporting diverse wildlife and plants, but also their importance in sustaining healthy ecosystems,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The wetland restoration and enhancements made possible through WREP will significantly increase wildlife habitat and improve water quality.”
Beginning this year, USDA will provide $9,847,500 in financial assistance for four multi-year projects to protect and restore 2,440 acres of wetlands and associated habitats. At the sponsoring entity’s request, the fifth approved project is expected to begin in 2011 when funding is available. Approved projects will focus outreach and assistance efforts at various scales – from individual projects to multi-state watersheds.
The following projects were approved for financial aid:
Wabash River Floodplain Corridor Project Sponsoring Entity: The Nature Conservancy Fiscal Year 2010 Financial Assistance: $3,255,000 Acreage: 1,000
Wetland Restoration and Enhancement for Water Quality and Habitat Benefits, Des Moines Lobe Sponsoring Entity: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Fiscal Year 2010 Financial Assistance: $3,842,500 Acreage: 600 Des Moines Metro Forest Initiative Sponsoring Entity: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Fiscal Year Financial Assistance: $2,000,000
Sand Creek & Prior Lake/Spring Lake Watershed Sponsoring Entity: Scott Soil and Water Conservation District Project to begin in 2011
Rainwater Basin Water Complex Sponsoring Entity: Pheasants Forever Fiscal Year 2010 Financial Assistance: $750,000 Acreage: 240
Landowners have three options to enter eligible land into this program – permanent easement, 30-year easement or a 30-year contract with Indian tribes. Landowners retain ownership and access to the land and may be able to generate income from NRCS-approved grazing, haying or recreation opportunities. Individuals in approved areas may now apply for assistance through their local NRCS offices or by contacting the sponsoring entity.
To read more about WREP, go to: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp.
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