Missouri River Floodplain Farmers in Five States Eligible for Wetland Restoration Assistance through USDA and The Nature Conservancy
Iowa landowners affected by 2011 Missouri River flooding may be eligible for wetland restoration assistance from the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) through a five-state project sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, said Richard Sims, state conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Des Moines, Iowa. Deadline to apply for this assistance is May 4.
Farmers in Plymouth, Woodbury, Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont counties with areas flooded during the 2011 Missouri River flood and eligible land within 1,000 meters of the Missouri River may apply to restore wetlands on their land through permanent easements. A map of eligible areas is available at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
"Much of the farmland along the Missouri River was damaged by scouring and sand deposition," said Sims. "This WREP provides economic options for flood-impacted agricultural landowners. The resulting wetlands will also offset societal costs of future floods while providing valuable water quality and wildlife habitat benefits."
Nearly $3 million is available for easements and restoration costs to producers in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, said Sims. The Nature Conservancy is providing a five percent cash match for restoration costs on permanent easement and key restoration practices.
"We are pleased to partner with NRCS in this new program and hope it represents part of a proactive approach that landowners and communities along the river can take to help reduce the impacts of future flooding along the Missouri River," said Jan Glendening, director of The Nature Conservancy in Iowa.
Applications for this WREP project will be ranked based on size of proposed easement, proximity to the river, proximity to conservation land areas greater than 300 acres, percentage of hydric soils, percent damage and whether the easement area is located where a planned levee breach or levee setback will occur. Easement costs will be based on current, post-flood conditions.
WREP is a voluntary program carried out through partnership agreements with state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Indian tribes. It is a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Landowners participating in WREP retain ownership and access to the land, and may be able to generate income from grazing, haying or recreation approved by NRCS.
Landowners may apply at their local NRCS office (find your nearest NRCS Service Center).
Monica Monk, Iowa NRCS easement programs coordinator, 515-323-2637