Wetland restoration, enhancement assistance available through USDA

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WASHINGTON, DC, April 15, 2010 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of funding to restore, enhance, protect, and manage habitat for migratory birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP). WREP is a voluntary conservation program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that works through partnership agreements with states, nongovernmental organizations, and tribes.

"America's wetlands play crucial roles in providing habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and plants and in sustaining healthy ecosystems," said Vilsack. "The wetland restoration and enhancement actions made possible through WREP will maximize wildlife habitat values, water quality, and improve the overall environment."

At least $25 million will be available through WREP to eligible partners, who may submit proposals to their NRCS state office. Proposals may be submitted for individual projects, watershed-wide, or a larger geographic area. All proposals must be received no later than close of business Monday, May 24, 2010. Proposals will not be accepted by fax, email, or through the grants.gov Web site.

NRCS State Conservationists will evaluate partner proposals using a competitive process. Priority will be given to proposals that:

• Have a high potential to achieve wetland restoration and significantly improve wildlife habitat;
• Significantly leverage non-federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, state, tribal, or federal efforts;
• Demonstrate the partners' history of working cooperatively with landowners;
• Provide innovation in wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement methods and outcome-based performance measures and methods;
• Provide evidence that wetland restoration and enhancement activities will be completed within 2 years of easement closing;
• Provide for monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the restoration activities;
• Provide for matching financial or technical assistance funds to assist landowners with the implementation of the Wetlands Reserve Plan of Operations and associated contracts;
• Facilitate the submission of landowner applications; and
• Provide for outreach to, and participation of, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes within the area covered by the agreement.

For additional information about WREP please visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp/index.html to view a copy of the national request for proposals published in the Federal Register.

For information about other NRCS conservation programs, visit: www.nrcs.usda.gov, or visit the nearest USDA Service Center in your area. 2010 represents the 75th year of NRCS "helping people help the land." Since its inception in 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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