BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA, May 9, 2022 - In fiscal year (FY) 2022, Congress appropriated $4 million to fund the Water Bank Program (WBP) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening enrollment in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
North Dakota NRCS will be accepting applications May 10 – June 10, 2022 for counties North and East of the Missouri River. The purposes of WBP include preserving and improving major wetlands as habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife, conserving surface waters, reducing soil and wind erosion, contributing to flood control, improving water quality, improving subsurface moisture, and enhancing the natural beauty of the landscape WBP contracts are nonrenewable, 10-year rental agreements. Rental payments are made annually.
Financial assistance is not available for conservation practices through WBP. WBP participants who wish to establish or maintain conservation practices may apply for financial assistance through other NRCS or State financial assistance programs where available. NRCS will assist participants with developing a conservation plan of operations (CPO) for the enrolled land and associated adjacent land when applicable.
A WBP agreement must be executed for each farm or ranch and the agreement will become effective on January 1 of the calendar year in which the agreement is approved. For this signup period, agreements will be considered effective on January 1, 2023 if existing crops are on the offered acreage. If crops, are not one the offered acreage, landowners can choose to have payment made in calendar year 2022, and payment will be issued in November 2022.
Land enrolled in WBP may not be cropped. NRCS may authorize haying under limited circumstances, such as severe drought. NRCS may authorize grazing where necessary to enhance the wetland functions and values of the land under agreement.
NRCS will prioritize applications as follows:
- High – Cropland impacted by flooding.
- Medium – Pasture, hay and range lands impacted by flooding.
- Low – Forest and other lands impacted by flooding.
Eligible applications from the “High” category will be funded first, followed by the “Medium” and “Low” categories.
The State-established ranking criteria will emphasize the project’s environmental benefits, cost, availability of matching funds, and significance of wetland functions and values.
WBP payment rates include:
- $50 per acre per year for cropland
- $35 per acre per year for pasture and range land (grazing lands)
- $20 per acre per year for forestland
For more information please contact your local NRCS Field Office.
Todd C. Hagel, Assistant State Conservationist (Programs)
Natural Resources Conservation Service