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News Release

USDA Seeks New Partnerships to Safeguard, Restore Wetland Ecosystems

Roney Gutierrez

Proposals due Nov. 30

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Oct. 5, 2020 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced up to $30 million is available in technical and financial assistance through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) to help conservation partners protect and restore critical wetlands on agricultural lands in Florida. Restored wetlands help improve water quality downstream, enhance wildlife habitat, reduce impacts from flooding, and provide recreational benefits.

"This partnership works with other NRCS landscape-level conservation efforts to coordinate the delivery of conservation assistance to producers that yield the most impacts for accelerated benefits nationally and regionally,” said Kevin Norton, acting Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Eligible conservation partners in Florida will work through WREP to voluntarily execute high priority wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities on eligible agriculture lands. WREP enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working agricultural landscapes, providing meaningful benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program and to the communities where the wetlands exist.

Proposals should be emailed by Nov. 30, 2020 to Roney Gutierrez, 352-338-9502.

About the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership

Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), which is part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a Farm Bill conservation program. Through WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations, and American Indian tribes collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their properties. WREP partners are required to contribute a financial or technical assistance fund match.

Wetland Reserve Easements enable landowners to successfully reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, enhance and protect wildlife habitat, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Healthy wetlands, including those protected and restored through WREP, contribute to USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda of reducing the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. Earlier this year, Secretary Perdue announced the department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands.

Partners benefit from WREP by targeting outreach and enrollment priorities supported by NRCS, including places impacted by natural disasters. Easements enable landowners to adopt a variety of conservation practices that improve the function and condition of wetlands.

Partners looking to learn more about opportunities for WREP funding for fiscal year 2021 are encouraged to attend the WREP workshop Oct. 22, 1 p.m. EDT. Visit the WREP webpage for more information on the workshop or this program opportunity.