USDA seeks sign-ups for wetlands, grasslands conservation programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications from landowners interested in the Wetlands Reserve Program and Grassland Reserve Program.
A new round of funding authorizes $255 million to enroll up to 100,000 additional acres into WRP and $47 million to enroll up to 200,000 additional acres into GRP, both nationwide.
Anyone interested in these voluntary programs should contact their state or local NRCS office. Sign-up dates and deadlines vary by state, and applications are accepted throughout the year.
The Wetlands Reserve Program helps landowners restore and protect wetland ecosystems on private and tribal lands. They may select a permanent or 30-year easement or a restoration cost-share agreement, retaining ownership of the land once the agreement is in place. More than 11,000 private landowners participating in WRP are already protecting more than 2.6 million acres of America's wetlands.
Through the Grassland Reserve Program, landowners and managers apply for conservation easements or rental agreements that support conservation of working grazing operations, enhancement of plant and animal biodiversity, and protection of grassland under threat of conversion to other uses.
"The benefits of these reserved wetlands reach well beyond their boundaries to improve watershed health, the vitality of agricultural lands, as well as the aesthetics and economies of local communities," said NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller. "Conservation of working grasslands enhances plant and animal biodiversity while protecting the land."