Wetlands Reserve Program Applications Due February 17
Des Moines, IA, Jan. 12, 2012 — USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced Feb. 17 as the next cutoff date to submit applications through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) for Iowa landowners interested in restoring agricultural land to natural wetlands.
WRP is a voluntary program that provides technical and financial assistance to eligible private landowners and Tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture. WRP is a continuous signup program, although NRCS periodically makes funding selections as program funding allows. Feb. 17 is the second cutoff date for fiscal year 2012 funding.
During fiscal year 2011, NRCS enrolled easements on more than 4,000 acres across Iowa at a value exceeding $15 million. Over the past 20 years, more than 156,000 acres have been restored or are in the process of being restored to wetlands in Iowa through WRP and similar federal programs.
This fiscal year, NRCS in Iowa is setting aside 10 percent of its WRP allocation for beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, and limited resource producers. "We are committed to improving service to private landowners and enhancing outreach to historically underserved landowners," said Monica Monk, easement program coordinator for NRCS in Iowa.
Wetlands provide habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals; reduce flooding; recharge groundwater; protect biological diversity; and provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and limited recreational activities.
To apply or to find out more about WRP eligibility and enrollment options, visit your local USDA Service Center or go online towww.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WRP.html.
Monica Monk, Iowa NRCS Easement Programs Coordinator