DOVER, Del., May 4, 2010 - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Delaware is challenging landowners to learn more about protecting, restoring or enhancing wetlands on their property during May- American Wetlands Month. NRCS is affording eligible landowners this opportunity by providing financial and technical assistance year-round through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
In Delaware, more than $2.7 million have been used to restore or enhance 879 acres of wetlands since 2007. NRCS’ goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat on every acre enrolled in the program. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and wetland protection.
Wetlands provide numerous benefits: they provide habitat for fish and wildlife; improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals; reduce flooding; recharge groundwater; and provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and limited recreational activities.
“Only through our landowners can we achieve optimal conditions of our wetlands statewide,” said Jayme Arthurs, Farm Bill Program Specialist. “We’ve streamlined the easement process to create a more accurate and reasonable time-frame and we’ve clarified our guideline of landowner benefits and limits in an effort to make wetland restoration easier for our customers.”
To be eligible for WRP, the land must be privately-owned for a minimum of seven years and restorable. This includes, but is not limited to, wetlands cleared and/or drained for farming, pasture or timber production; drained wooded wetlands where hydrology will be significantly restored; and upland areas needed to provide an adequate ecological buffer, among others.
WRP offers three options to protect, restore and enhance wetlands and associated uplands: permanent easements, 30-year easements and 10-year restoration cost-share agreements. Landowners that enter into a permanent easement may receive up to $2,900 per acre for woodland and $4,000 per acre for cropland plus up to 100 percent of the cost of approved wetland restoration practices. For 30-year easements applicants can receive 75 percent of the permanent easement value and 75 percent of the cost of approved wetland restoration practices. USDA pays 75 percent of the cost for restoration agreements. The landowner retains ownership and responsibility for the land and controls access. This includes the right to hunt, fish, trap and pursue other appropriate recreational activities.
Interested landowners may apply for WRP anytime as the program offers continuous sign-up. To request additional information on WRP or other NRCS programs and services, please contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex, call 302-856-3990 ext 3; in Kent, call 302-741-2600 ext. 3; in New Castle, call 302-832-3100 ext 3.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.