USDA Funds $14 Million in Easements for Iowa Wetland Restoration
DES MOINES, IOWA, Nov. 22, 2013—USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agreed to purchase 30 conservation easements for wetland restoration in Iowa during fiscal year 2013 that cover 2,829 acres worth $14 million through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
Since the inception of WRP in 1992, NRCS has restored more than 175,000 wetland acres in Iowa.
WRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. NRCS provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts.
The Northern Plains Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative, which aims to provide habitat for migrating birds, helped fund 12 of Iowa’s new WRP easements. New easements through the Bird Habitat Initiative cover 860 acres in the Prairie Pothole Region, located in the north central part of the state.
Wetlands provide habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. They also improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity, and provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and recreational activities.
Larry Beeler, NRCS assistant state conservationist for programs in Iowa, says cropland areas that are often wet or prone to flooding make prime candidates for wetland restoration. “We accept applications for all of our programs on a continuous basis,” said Beeler. “There are several WRP enrollment options, including permanent easements where USDA pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.”
To find out more about WRP eligibility and enrollment options, visit your local USDA Service Center or go online to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/.