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USDA Announces Public-Private Investment in Critical Wetlands
USAgNet - 07/08/2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is awarding $44.6 million through its Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership to support 10 wetland enhancement projects on private and tribal agricultural lands in 12 states. Recipients for each project are providing more than $4.3 million in matching funds, bringing the total investment to approximately $49 million. In total, the projects will help to protect, restore or enhance 15,000 wetland acres in critical watersheds across the country.

"USDA is committed to protecting and enhancing our nation's wetlands, which are critical to the quality of our nation's waters, wildlife and landscapes," said Vilsack. "By collaborating with private partners at the local and regional level, USDA is able to support innovative conservations solutions and expand the amount of dedicated resources. These are high impact projects that will ensure our land and water resources are healthy now and for the next generation."

The Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. WREP helps States, local governments, Tribes and other organizations collaborate with NRCS to work with private and Tribal landowners to voluntarily enroll eligible land into conservation easements that protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property. WREP is a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

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. The voluntary nature of NRCS easement programs allows effective integration of wetland restoration on agricultural land, 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.

Thursday's announcement includes projects in Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.

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