Tuesday, May 3, 2016

USDA Seeks Landowner Proposals To Protect Critical Wetlands In Pennsylvania

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking proposals from eligible landowner partners to protect and improve wetlands.  Proposals are due May 16.
Through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), $15 million is available nationwide to help partners leverage local investments to provide technical and financial resources for wetland protection and improvements on private agricultural lands.
Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, landowners may apply at any time at the local USDA Service Center.
“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,” Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania NRCS State Conservationist said. “We are looking to our partners for innovative project proposals that will allow us to expand our work on critical wetlands and gain results that will make project participants proud.”
WREP is one way state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Tribal governments collaborate with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to increase the number of voluntary conservation projects for targeted, high-priority wetland protection, restoration and enhancement.
Local and regional WREP partners match federal funding and technical assistance to increase the assistance they can provide to eligible private landowners interested in enrolling their agricultural land into conservation wetland easements.
WREP is a special enrollment option under USDA’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities.
The voluntary nature of NRCS' easement programs allows effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to their communities.
Proposals must be submitted to the NRCS state office at 359 East Park Drive, Suite 2, Harrisburg, PA 17111 by May 16.
More information is available on the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program webpage.

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