Special Projects Help Increase Iowa Wetland Acres in 2012
New Farm Bill to Include WRP
Des Moines, IA, Oct. 18, 2012 - Four special projects in western and central Iowa helped increase the number of Iowa acres restored to wetlands through theWetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in 2012. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agreed to purchase conservation easements valued at $21 million through 53 contracts covering 4,814 acres - a 14 percent acre increase over 2011.
WRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. The NRCS provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts.
Following is an overview of the four special WRP projects in 2012:
Wetland Restoration Assistance for Missouri River Floodplain farmers. NRCS purchased conservation easements through five contracts covering 730 acres following the 2011 floods along the Missouri River floodplain. The Nature Conservancy sponsored this special project, covering a five state region.
North Raccoon Watershed. NRCS purchased eight easements covering nearly 700 acres in the watershed, located in north central Iowa. Wetlands were restored to help improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat.
South Raccoon Watershed. NRCS purchased one easement on 155 acres to provide wildlife habitat. The watershed covers an area running from northwest of Carroll to southeast of Stuart in west central Iowa.
Northern Plains Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative. NRCS purchased seven easements covering 471 acres in Iowa's Prairie Pothole Region, located in the north central part of the state, which provide habitat for migratory birds.
Wetlands provide habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. They also improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity, and provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and recreational activities.
Monica Monk, easement programs coordinator for NRCS in Iowa, says cropland areas that are often wet and/or prone to flooding make prime candidates for wetland restoration. "We also get a lot of farmers who need to replace deteriorated tile and decide it's best to enroll that land in a conservation program like WRP," she said.
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.
Iowa Map of 2012 WRP Acres and Easement Values
Monica Monk, Iowa NRCS Easement Programs Coordinator