INDIANAPOLIS — USDA is making available up to $40 million 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 improve wildlife habitat, while also providing flood prevention and recreational benefits to communities.
“These locally-led partnerships are instrumental in achieving greater wetland acreage and maximizing their benefits to farmers and the local communities where wetlands exist,” said Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “For example, these partnerships can help with addressing croplands that flood frequently during heavy rain events.”
Proposals should be emailed to NRCS at SM.NRCS.WRE@wdc.usda.gov by June 14, 2019.
Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Through WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental 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.
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 their NRCS state office as part of developing the proposal. Proposals must follow ACEP guidelines for wetland reserve easements.
For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact your District Conservationist https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/in/contact/local/.
— Natural Resources Conservation Service
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