Kevin Norton, state conservationist in Louisiana for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today the availability of $17.5 million in financial and technical assistance nationwide to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands.
“USDA has leveraged partnerships to accomplish a great deal on America’s wetlands over the past two decades,” Norton said. “This year’s funding will help strengthen these partnerships and achieve greater wetland acreage in Louisiana and throughout the nation.”
Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s Wetland Reserve Easement component. It is administered by NRCS. Under WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with USDA through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with willing tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. WREP was created through the 2014 Farm Bill and was formerly known as the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program.
Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. The voluntary nature of NRCS’ easement programs allows effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, 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.
Proposals must be submitted to state offices by July 15, 2015. To find proposal requirements, review criteria and submittal instructions, please visit the Louisiana NRCS Website.