NRCS to fund new collaborations to help farmers safeguard vital wetlands

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The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is making up to $30 million available through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership to help conservation partners protect and restore critical wetlands on Virginia agricultural acreage.

Offered through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, WREP gives states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes an opportunity to collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners then work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties with far-reaching impacts beyond the local area.

“WREP provides meaningful benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program and to the communities where the wetlands exist,” said Virginia State Conservationist Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez. “Participating landowners adopt conservation practices that help improve water quality downstream, enhance wildlife habitat, reduce impacts from flooding and provide recreational benefits for the community at large.”

WREP partners are required to contribute matching financial or technical assistance funding for the projects that effectively integrate wetland restoration on working agricultural landscapes.

This locally driven process allows entities to target critical areas for restoration, share costs with NRCS, participate in project monitoring and implement innovative practices.

Proposals should be emailed to Leticia Jackson-Holder at leticia.jackson@usda.gov by Nov. 30.

NRCS will review partners’ project proposals and evaluate priority resource concerns, objectives, costs and expected outcomes and rank proposals based on ranking worksheet criteria included on the WREP webpage.

NRCS will prioritize applications for projects that:

  • provide the maximum match of partner resources;
  • support the goals and objectives of an NRCS landscape conservation initiative (i.e., longleaf pine in Virginia);
  • protect habitat that benefits migratory birds and wetland-dependent wildlife;
  • provide direct benefits to threatened and endangered species (federal and state); and
  • include targeted outreach to underserved groups in the agricultural community.

Partners looking to learn more about opportunities for WREP funding for Fiscal Year 2021 are encouraged to attend the WREP workshop on Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. EDT.

Visit the WREP webpage for more information on the workshop or this program opportunity.

 


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