Champaign, IL —The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing up to $3.5 million in the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) project to bring together partners and landowners to return critical wetland functions to agricultural landscapes. This project provides financial assistance to landowners in the WREP project area in Indiana and Illinois. Eligible landowners must submit applications for WREP’s current funding pool on or before January 18 to be considered for funding in the first batching period. Illinois’ WREP area for fiscal year 2022 includes Edwards, Wabash, White, and Gallatin Counties in Southern Illinois. See map below.
“Wetland protection and restoration is a key component of our strategy to address climate change, and partnerships are essential to this work,” Ivan Dozier, NRCS State Conservationist in Illinois said. “This project spans 2022- 2025 and focuses investments on wetland restoration projects particularly with historically underserved landowners, who we know face significant barriers in accessing USDA assistance for conservation. Our partners provide important support that allows these projects to expand conservation opportunities.”
According to District Conservationist Rhonda Cox, solutions here in Illinois focus on water quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife in the Lower Wabash River. This partner effort, led by The Nature Conservancy, seeks to enroll 1,000 acres into wetland restoration habitat. The project aims to build on existing efforts of local partnerships between NRCS, The Nature Conservancy, and the Conservation Law Center.
“The Illinois-Indiana project focus is to reduce nutrient export from the Wabash River and to improve important habitat around priority oxbow lakes for monarch butterflies, migratory birds and large river fish species,” Cox explains. NRCS looks forward to working with farmers and landowners who want to convert their flooded or constantly ponded cropland to wildlife habitat for an easement payment. To apply for the WREP program, contact the NRCS office in Edwards, Wabash, White, or Gallatin Counties. To learn more about who is considered historically underserved, visit this website.
More information about the WREP program is available on the WREP webpage.
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