The Everglades Initiative
Through the Everglades Initiative (EI) the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and our partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, control invasive plant species, benefit wildlife and fish habitat and support rural economies in the Florida Everglades region.
How Does EI Work?
Through EI, NRCS uses various conservation programs to provide technical and financial support to help farmers, ranchers, and landowners put conservation on the ground in the Everglades region.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) plays a critical role in Everglades conservation. WRP is a voluntary easement program in which landowners sell their development rights and place their land in a conservation easement that permanently maintains that land as agriculture and open space.
The objectives of this initiative are to:
Improve water quality
Improve irrigation water management
Control invasive plant species
Improve wildlife and fish habitat
EI will be implemented by NRCS through:
How Does EI Benefit Producers?
Through EI, NRCS helps producers implement voluntary conservation practices that conserve America’s natural resources in the Everglades watershed while ensuring economic viability of cropland and rangeland.
Conservation practices installed by producers serve to avoid, control and trap nutrient runoff, prevent erosion and provide essential wildlife habitat. These practices benefit the natural resources of the Everglades and enhance agricultural profitability through reduced input and enhanced soil health (higher soil organic matter, increased infiltration and water-holding capacity, nutrient cycling, etc.).
How Does EI Benefit the Public?
Stewardship of the Everglades is crucial. Everglades wetlands provide water for one third of Florida’s population, more than 7 million people. The Everglades are the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
Protecting this network of wetlands ensures a steady water supply, economic well being in the region, and a healthy habitat for the unique fish and wildlife of the region.
NRCS is building a foundation of partners from non-profit and private organizations, local, state, and federal governments and individuals across the Nation. Whether these partnerships augment funding sources, increase return on investment, or provide boots-on-the-ground support, NRCS and its partners are committed to helping people help the land.
Working with partners for positive results has been customary in the Everglades region. Since 2010, USDA is making great strides in Everglades conservation with the help of partners like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and The Nature Conservancy.
This year, USDA partnered with The Nature Conservancy, FWS and other groups to acquire several connected tracts, called American Prime. These almost 800 acres near LaBelle, Fla. were formerly drained wetlands used for ranching. The land was slated for a new 200-home subdivision when it was acquired and used to establish new habitat for rare wildlife like the Florida panther.