USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Jerry Raynor, is encouraging landowners who want to protect and restore wetlands across Indiana to start the conservation planning and application process early. The funding to protect these critical water resources and wildlife habitat is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s (ACEP) Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) program.
“I cannot overemphasize the benefits of restoring, enhancing and protecting Indiana’s crucial wetlands,” said Raynor. “They not only help reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and restore and enhance habitat for wildlife but they also provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities to their surrounding communities.”
The WRE program focuses on wet farmed areas that fail to be productive due to moisture or flooding. These areas are likely to be historic wetlands that can be restored. WRE restores and protects former wetland acres and adjacent supporting habitat through 30-year and permanent easements. NRCS provides funding for all acquisition and restoration aspects and pays the landowner an easement payment for the rights to restoration and oversight of the property.
In Indiana, 2,231 acres were enrolled in the WRE in the last year alone. Once restored, these acres will join over 80,000 acres of protected floodplain and wetland easements in the state. Many of these easements lie in areas critical for migratory waterfowl and other birds, such as the Wabash River, Goose Pond, Kankakee Marsh, and Muscatatuck River Corridor.
NRCS accepts applications for WRE at any time. Apply now to be considered for funding this year. Early eligibility determination and ranking assures consideration for this competitive program when deadlines are announced.