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News Release


Sharon Swagger
(706) 546-2203

Natural Resources
Conservation Service
355 East Hancock Ave., Ste. 212
Athens, GA, 30601
Voice:  706-546-2069

Release No.: 0007.19   ­

Printable version (PDF) (40 KB)

ATHENS, GA, May 21, 2019 -- USDA is making available up to $40 million in technical and financial assistance to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands, include those in Georgia. Restored wetlands improve water quality downstream and improve wildlife habitat, while also providing flood prevention and recreational benefits to communities.

“Last week, our Chief, Matthew Lohr (of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)) announced a tremendous opportunity to enhance our locally-led partnerships to expand our nation’s wetland acreage where wetlands already exist,” said Terrance O. Rudolph, state conservationist for Georgia’s NRCS. “In addition to enhancing ground water recharge capabilities, this program, through these partnerships, can help communities better respond to natural disasters and help with flood prone cropland.”

Proposals should be emailed to NRCS at by June 14, 2019.

About the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership

Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), 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.

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. Partners benefit from WREP by targeting outreach and enrollment priorities supported by NRCS, including places impacted by natural disasters, such as the severe flooding that has impacted Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri.

The voluntary nature of NRCS' easement programs enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to the communities where the wetlands exist. Easements enable landowners to adopt a variety of conservation practices that improve the function and condition of wetlands.

Partners interested in WREP are encouraged to work with their NRCS state office as part of developing the proposal. For Georgia, the WREP point of contact is Sharon Swagger, conservation easement specialist. Swagger can be reached by phone at 706-546-2203 or by email at Proposals must follow ACEP guidelines for wetland reserve easements.

Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in ACEP should contact their local USDA service center or visit the ACEP webpage.