USDA-NRCS and CBBEP Announce Texas Wetlands Partnership Project
Temple, Texas, April 27, 2012 – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Salvador Salinas has announced funding for a partnership agreement for high-priority wetland restoration and conservation work in Texas. The NRCS and their partner, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP), have nearly $4 million in financial and technical assistance available for this project in 2012, and will enter into a long-term agreement to deliver additional assistance over the next four years.
“This program will give us the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards wetlands restoration, enhancement or protection,” Salinas said. “This partnership effort combines federal resources with the funding and expertise of others needed to improve water quality, prevent flooding, and enhance wildlife habitat on the wetlands near our Gulf Coast.”
The partnership is calling the project the Gulf Coast Conservation Initiative and focusing on priority areas within Matagorda, Jackson, Calhoun, Goliad, Refugio, Aransas, San Patricio and Nueces Counties.
“The Estuary Program is pleased to provide assistance to the NRCS in identifying critical areas that need to be protected and enhanced through the Wetland Reserve Program,” said CBBEP Executive Director Ray Allen. “We recognize that private property landowners are good stewards of the land and we think this program will strengthen that private property conservation ethic.”
Private landowners located within these counties can work with NRCS and CBBEP to restore and protect wetlands. Participants retain ownership and access to the land and may be able to generate income from recreation.
The project is being funded through the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP), a special component of the NRCS’ Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Through WRP, private landowners can restore and permanently protect wetlands. WREP works differently - partners, such as nongovernmental organizations and state agencies, contribute technical and financial assistance to leverage NRCS’ funding. These partners identify special WREP project areas where they plan to focus wetlands restoration and protection efforts.
From extensive restoration in the Florida Everglades to ongoing efforts around the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, USDA is working with state and local governments and private landowners to conserve and protect our nation’s natural resources – helping preserve our land, and clean our air and water.
Next month, the NRCS celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Wetlands Reserve Program. More than 11,000 of America’s private landowners have voluntarily enrolled over 2.3 million acres into the WRP. The cumulative benefits of these wetlands reach well beyond their boundaries to improve watershed health, the vitality of agricultural lands and the aesthetics and economies of local communities.
Landowners may apply at their local NRCS office (find your nearest NRCS service center at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov) or by contacting the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program at (361) 885-6202.