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News Release

Farmers and Private Landowners Help Wetlands Thrive in Texas

Lori Ziehr

Temple, Texas, May 20, 2020 — Spring is a wonderful time to appreciate the wonders of wetlands. Wetlands protect plants and provide habitat for wildlife, including endangered or threatened species. They also filter water, reduce soil loss, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, reduce flooding and recharge groundwater. And they provide recreational opportunities such as hunting and fishing.

May is American Wetlands Month, a time to celebrate one of nature’s most productive ecosystems and the wonderful ways wetlands enrich the environment and our lives.

Farmers, ranchers and private landowners in Texas have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to create, restore and enhance wetlands for decades. They have incorporated wetlands into their operations for the benefits to the environment and their land. To help realize these benefits they have worked with USDA for assistance through its programs and services.

NRCS offers financial and technical assistance to farmers and private landowners through programs to create, restore, and enhance wetlands. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)’s Wetland Reserve Easement component offers opportunities to put marginal cropland and other eligible land into permanent and 30-year easements. NRCS accepts ACEP WRE applications year-round but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment periods. Each state sets the application deadlines for enrollment periods. NRCS in Texas recently concluded the ACEP application deadline for 2020 on April 17th, and received 11 WRE applications for protecting 16,385 acres.

NRCS is using creative methods to help farmers and private forest landowners meet Farm Bill goals through its Wetland Mitigation Bank Program. Wetland mitigation banking helps restore, create or enhance wetlands to compensate for unavoidable impacts on wetlands at other locations. Working with states, local governments, and American Indian tribes, NRCS helps them develop wetland mitigation banks. NRCS is currently accepting proposals for new projects through July 6, 2020.

Protecting and restoring wetlands strengthens agricultural operations, sustains the nation’s food supply, helps improve water quality and quantity and protects habitat for diverse wildlife. NRCS current maintains 173 Wetland Reserve Easements on 97,057 acres.

As we celebrate the month, our producers, partners, educators and others deserve thanks for helping to protect wetlands.

If you are a farmer or private landowner interested in learning more about wetlands, please contact your local USDA Service Center. USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible.