Sign-up Deadline Approaching for USDA’s Easement Programs
DOVER, Del., Dec. 23, 2010 - USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Delaware announced today that the sign-up period for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is quickly approaching. Interested landowners now have until January 29 to submit their applications to their local USDA Service Center to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2011.
The Wetlands Reserve Program provides an opportunity for landowners to receive financial assistance to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property. WRP helps to reduce flooding, improve water quality by filtering sediment and chemicals, recharge groundwater and more. In addition, these wetlands provide food and shelter for migratory birds and other wetland dependent species.
WRP offers landowners a combination of permanent and 30-year easements, in addition to 10-year restoration agreements, in exchange for retiring and restoring woodland and marginal land from agriculture. In 2010, landowners that agreed to a permanent easement received up to $2,900 per acre for woodland and $4,000 per acre for cropland plus the cost of approved restoration practices. Payment rates for 2011 are forthcoming. For 30-year easements, applicants can receive 75 percent of the permanent easement value.
The Grassland Reserve Program helps landowners restore and protect grassland, pastureland, and certain other lands and provides assistance for rehabilitating grasslands. The program will conserve vulnerable grasslands from conversion to cropland or other uses.
GRP offers producers permanent easements and rental agreements (10, 15 or 20 years). For permanent easements in 2010, USDA based payments on the fair market value of the property, less the grazing value-- not exceeding $7,000.00 per acre. Rates for 2011 are forthcoming. For rental agreements, USDA pays $13.00 per acre in Kent County, $13.50 per acre in New Castle County, and $15.00 per acre in Sussex in annual payments for the length of the agreement. For restoration agreements, USDA pays up to 50 percent of the restoration costs on grassland and shrubland.
For easements, USDA pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office. Landowners voluntarily limit future use of the land, yet retain private ownership.
NRCS will rank and select parcels after the sign-up period ends and funds will be obligated shortly thereafter. Once funding has been exhausted, eligible applicants will remain on file until additional funding becomes available.
To participate in WRP or GRP, land offers must be privately-owned. Interested landowners are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center for more information. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Or visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.
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