Wetland restoration, enhancement in four states gets USDA assistance

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• Restored and enhanced wetlands will help build healthy ecosystems and communities

KANSAS CITY, MO, Mar. 17, 2011 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has selected five partner proposals that will help restore, enhance and protect high-priority wetlands and improve wildlife habitat, Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman announced today. Through USDA's Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP), partners will work with eligible landowners to plan and implement needed conservation practices.

Sherman made the announcement during the 76th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"The protection of wetlands and the habitat they provide for wildlife and plants is an important component of the Obama Administration's commitment to good stewardship our natural heritage," Sherman said. "The wetland restoration and enhancements made possible through this program significantly improve the overall health of our ecosystems and ultimately, our communities."

The USDA will provide nearly $6 million in financial assistance through WREP in fiscal year 2011. Through WREP, a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program, NRCS enters into multi-year agreements with state and local governments, non-government organizations and American-Indian tribes to leverage resources and provide financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners to protect, restore and enhance wetlands and improve wildlife habitat.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which administers WREP, used a competitive process to select proposals submitted by state and local governments, nongovernmental organizations and American-Indian tribes. The following proposals were selected, which will allow partners to work with eligible landowners to protect and restore nearly 4,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in fiscal year 2011.

State: Georgia
Partner: Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Project: Conduct hydrologic Restoration of Oakbin Pond, home to Canby's Dropwort, an endangered plant, by enrolling 400 acres in new WRP easements
FY 2011 Funding: $500,000

State: Idaho
Partner: Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Project: Restore and enhance 1,000 acres in existing WRP easements to enhance wildlife habitat and improve water quality along Smith and Boundary Creek
FY 2011 Funding $40,000

State: Iowa
Partner: Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Project: Enroll about 1,000 acres in new WRP easements in the prairie pothole region to improve wetland and wildlife habitat.
FY 2011 Funding: $3,780,000

State: Iowa
Partner: Black Hawk County Conservation Board
Project: Enroll about 300 acres in New WRP easements to enhance wildlife habitat and improve water quality, and reduce flooding potential.
FY 2011 Funding: $1,122,640

State: Missouri
Partner: Missouri Department of Conservation
Project: Restore and enhance more than 1,200 acres in existing WRP easements to improve wildlife habitat along the Lower Grand River
FY 2011 Funding: $141,000

With the announcement of the selected proposals today, eligible individual farmers and ranchers located in approved proposal areas may now apply for that assistance through their local NRCS offices or by contacting the proposal partner. Landowners have four options to enter eligible land into this program -- permanent easement, 30-year easement, 30-year contracts with American-Indian tribes or 10-year restoration cost-share agreements. NRCS offices are located at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs.

Additional information about WREP is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202-720-6382 (TDD).

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