The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded $44.6 million to wetland enhancement projects in 12 states, which collectively cover approximately 15,000 acres of in critical watersheds, through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP).
Administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, WREP allows private and Tribal landowners to enroll eligible portions of their holdings into conservation easements, creating an environment for protecting, restoring and enhancing wetlands. The 10 projects recently awarded funding have provided matching funds of more than $4.3 million, creating a total investment of approximately $49 million.
"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," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "By collaborating with private partners at the local and regional level, USDA is able to support innovative conservation 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."
Since 2009, the NRCS has investmed more than $3.2 billion in financial and technical assistance through WREP, which has seen the enrollment of almost 1.3 million acres. Preserving wetlands benefits landowners and local communities by reducing the impacts of flooding, recharging groundwater, improving wildlife habitats and providing recreational and educational opportunities.