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News - Wetlands Projects Slated For Ranking February 15

Natural Resources Conservation Service - News Release

Wetlands Projects Slated For Ranking February 15

Over $40 million available for wetlands conservation in California, including new Grazing Reserved Rights Pilot Program

Contacts:
Jody Fagan (530) 792-5645
Dean Kwasny (530) 792-5648

DAVIS, Calif., January 6, 2011—Private landowners interested in enhancing, restoring or protecting their wetlands with this year’s funding may want to get their applications in soon. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has set Tuesday, February 15 as the deadline for considering projects for 2011 Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) funding.

This year WRP includes a new Grazing Reserve Rights Pilot Program that allows livestock grazing on enrolled land as part of a wetlands conservation and grazing management plan. California NRCS is offering the pilot program in three geographic areas: Coastal Pastures & Wetlands of the North Coast, California Vernal Pools, and Intermountain Wetlands of Northeastern California (please see link below to download map).

"We are emphasizing the value of California’s working lands with the new grazing pilot program," says Ed Burton, NRCS State Conservationist in California. "Science shows wetland conservation and livestock grazing can be compatible on certain landscapes."

WRP is a voluntary program that provides farmers, ranchers and other private landowners compensation for land placed in conservation easements, and cost-share funding for restoring and enhancing wetlands. The NRCS in California has received $40 million in WRP funding for 2011.

"WRP can provide agricultural producers an alternative to the difficulties of farming and ranching wet, marginal land," Burton says. "We’re excited this year to have an impressive amount of funding and to work closely with local landowners on wetland conservation."

While NRCS accepts WRP applications throughout the year, the agency plans to make 2011 funding decisions from the pool of applications received by Feb. 15.

WRP includes permanent easements that pay 100 percent of the easement value and restoration costs, and 30-year easements that pay up to 75 percent of the easement value and restoration costs. WRP also offers a 10-year restoration-only option without an easement.

The Grazing Reserve Rights Pilot Program offers the same permanent and 30-year easement options as WRP. However, the easement value is adjusted according to the amount of grazing right that remains unencumbered by the easement. This value is determined each year by the NRCS Chief. For 2011, the grazing pilot value will be 75% of the permanent or 30-year easement under WRP.

As with all NRCS easements, the landowner retains the title to the land, and the right to control access and recreational use. The land remains on the tax rolls.

To date, over 250 private landowners in California have voluntarily enrolled more than 100,000 acres into WRP. Overall, wetlands improve water quality, prevent flooding and soil erosion, recharge groundwater and provide critical wildlife habitat.

For more information on WRP and the Grazing Reserve Rights Pilot Program, landowners can contact their local NRCS Service Center or visit www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.

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2011 Grazing Reserved Rights Pilot Program Map (PDF; 484 KB)

Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.

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