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News Release

USDA Announces Assistance for Wetland Restoration and Enhancement

Project Proposals Due by Feb. 10, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Funding is available through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore, enhance, protect, and manage habitat for migratory birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP).  WREP is a voluntary conservation program that works through partnership agreements with states, non-governmental organizations and tribes.

Organizations interested in submitting a WREP proposal should contact Cindy Neal, Wetlands Reserve Program coordinator at (501) 301-3114 or e-mail cindy.neal@ar.usda.gov for assistance in developing the project proposal. Proposals are due by Feb. 10, 2012.

“NRCS staff in Arkansas will assist interested partners with the development of project proposals,” said Arkansas NRCS State Conservationist Mike Sullivan.

At least $17 million will be available nationally to eligible partners. Proposals may be submitted for individual projects, watershed-wide, or a larger geographic area.

NRCS will make $15 million in financial assistance (FA) funds available for agreements that will either result in new enrollments of eligible land under a permanent easement, a 30-year easement, a 30-year contract on acreage owned by Indian Tribes, or a restoration cost-share agreement, or will result in implementation of restoration or management of existing easements.

NRCS will make $2 million in technical assistance (TA) funds available for agreements that will provide technical assistance services to expedite closing, restoration or management design or planning, or monitoring of existing enrollments.

“America’s wetlands play crucial roles in providing habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and plants and in sustaining healthy ecosystems,” Sullivan said.  “The wetland restoration and enhancement actions made possible through WREP will maximize wildlife habitat values, water quality, and improve the overall environment.”

The NRCS state conservationist will evaluate partner proposals using a competitive process.  Priority will be given to proposals that:

  • Have a high potential to achieve wetland restoration.
  • Have a high potential to significantly improve wildlife habitat.
  • Provide innovation in wetland protection, restoration, management, and enhancement methods and outcome-based performance measures and methods.
  • Provide for outreach to, and participation of, Indian Tribes, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and limited-resource farmers or ranchers within the area covered by the agreement.
  • Facilitate the submission of landowner applications.
  • Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, State, tribal, or Federal efforts.
  • Demonstrate the partner's history of working cooperatively with landowners on conservation easements.
  • Demonstrate the partner’s ability to have landowners signup this fiscal year.
  • Provide for monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the restoration or management activities.
  • Provide for matching financial or technical assistance funds to assist landowners with the implementation of the Wetlands Reserve Plan of Operations and associated contracts.
  • If proposal is for FA funds for new enrollments, provide evidence that wetland restoration and enhancement activities will be completed within 2 years of easement closing.
  • If proposal is for TA funds associated with expediting closing, restoration planning, or monitoring of existing easements, provide evidence of qualifications, experience, and readiness of staff to complete technical assistance activities.
  • If the proposal is for the management of existing enrollments, provide an estimate of costs for the management activities and what the proposed activities will include, as well as which target habitat or species will benefit from the proposed activity.

For additional information about WREP please visit http://www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrep or your local USDA Service Center.