July 12, 2016
Rising demand for crop land conversion and developable land has made America’s wetlands some of our most threatened natural resources. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) helps restore wetlands by giving private landowners federal funding to help them protect, restore, and enhance wetlands through long-term easements.
On July 7, 2016 Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA had awarded $44.6 million in WREP funds in fiscal year (FY) 2016, supporting 10 wetland enhancement projects on private and tribal agricultural lands across 12 states. Award recipients are providing more than $4.3 million in matching funds for their projects, bringing the total FY 2016 investment in wetland enhancement close to $49 million.
WREP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill as a special enrollment option within the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). It is administered by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). WREP helps state, local, and tribal landowners work with NRCS to voluntarily enroll eligible land into conservation easements on their property. The easements enable landowners to reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, protect wildlife and develop recreational and educational opportunities.
The 10 funded projects are from Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. Nine of the projects are new, while one, in Tennessee, is an expansion of a previous project. A full list of projects can be found here.