DES MOINES, IOWA, Sept. 28, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it will award $1 million for a new wetland mitigation banking project in Iowa through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. This program assists conservation partners in developing or establishing mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.
“These wetlands will provide agriculture producers an affordable mitigation option to remain in compliance for USDA Farm Bill programs while establishing banks that support wetland functions. Healthy wetlands help filter our water, sequester carbon, curb soil loss, and provide habitat for wildlife,” said Kristy Oates, Acting State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Iowa.
Iowa Agricultural Mitigation Inc. (IAM) will add to its existing agricultural wetland mitigation bank by restoring a 471-acre complex of high-quality emergent, depressional (prairie pothole) wetlands. The project will include several hundred acres of native upland buffer in the Prairie Pothole Region of north-central Iowa. IAM is providing $3.2 million in funding to the project.
Wetland mitigation banks create credits through the restoration, creation, or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for impacts on wetlands at other locations. Most wetland mitigation banks, however, serve the development community and are not affordable to agricultural producers.
Producers seeking benefits through most USDA programs must comply with wetland conservation provisions by affirming they will not impact wetlands on their lands. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the Farm Bill allows producers to mitigate their conversion activities off-site through the purchase of mitigation banking credits.
This competitive grant program helps states, local governments, and other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks to assist agricultural producers with meeting the wetland conservation compliance requirements and remain eligible for USDA programs.
Nationally, USDA will award $5 million for eight wetland mitigation banking projects across the country.