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News Release

Conservation Easements Help Wetlands Thrive in Washington

May is American Wetlands Month and this year we want to celebrate all the work private landowners have done to help wetlands thrive. In Washington, private landowners have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to enroll 29,440.14 acres in Washington wetlands. Across the country, over 2.8 million acres have been enrolled through wetland conservation easements. These wetlands protect plants and provide habitat for wildlife, including endangered or threatened species.  

Wetlands are one of our most productive ecosystems and provide enrichment and enjoyment. They also filter water, reduce soil loss, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, reduce flooding, and recharge groundwater. They even provide recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing.  

Farmers, ranchers, and private landowners in Washington have worked with 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. 

Wetland easements: 

  • Filter sediments and chemicals 
  • Reduce flooding 
  • Recharge groundwater 
  • Protect biological diversity 
  • Provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and limited recreational activities.  

Wetland easements are also crucial to wildlife like  

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-Washington will hold its next signup in the spring of 2022. More information on Wetland Reserve Easements in Washington is available here

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

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.  

If you are a farmer or private landowner interested in learning more about wetlands, please contact your local USDA Service Center to set up an in-person or phone appointment. Because of the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors, but staff continue to work via phone, email, and other digital tools. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.  

Additional Washington Easement Resources

WA NRCS General Easement Information
WA NRCS Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) Information
WA NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) Information
WA NRCS Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) Information