USDA to Fund Wetlands Conservation in 22 States, Puerto Rico

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) that will add an expected 75,000 additional acres to the approximately 2.2 million acres currently enrolled in the program. The funding will go to wetland conservation projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico.

The funding availability totals nearly $175 million, and will be distributed to:

Alabama, $4,925,233; Arkansas, $10,177,680; California, $10,177,680; Florida, $29,400,977; Georgia, $1,881,920; Indiana, $4,071,072; Iowa, $6,106,608; Kansas, $594,885; Kentucky, $3,053,304; Louisiana, $11,124,510;

Minnesota, $5,088,840; Mississippi, $4,071,072; Missouri, $20,864,244; Nebraska, $18,319,824; New Hampshire, $1,781,094; North Carolina, $3,781,008; Oregon, $6,680,754; Puerto Rico, $668,202;

South Carolina, $4,071,072; South Dakota, $4,071,072; Tennessee, $6,106,608; Texas, $14,738,553; and Wisconsin, $3,053,304; Funded through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) WRP is a voluntary program that helps landowners address wetland and wildlife natural resource concerns on private lands. WRP participants limit their future use of the land, but retain private ownership.

WRP offers permanent easements that pay 100 percent of the value of an easement and up to 100 percent of easement restoration costs, and 30-year easements that pay up to 75 percent of the value of an easement and up to 75 percent of easement restoration costs. WRP also offers restoration cost-share agreements to restore wetland functions and values without placing an easement on enrolled acres; NRCS pays up to 75 percent of restoration costs.

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