USDA is investing up to $30 million nationwide to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana is accepting partner applications for technical and financial assistance until November 30.
Funding for partner projects will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a special enrollment option under NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). WREP allows state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes to collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. Funding is made available for new enrollments into permanent or 30-year easements.
“NRCS is committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s wetlands, which are critical to the quality of our nation’s waters, wildlife and landscapes,” said Jerry Raynor, Indiana NRCS State Conservationist. “We are looking to our partners for innovative project proposals that will help leverage funding, allowing us to expand our work on critical wetlands and gain results that will make project participants proud.”
Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. The voluntary nature of NRCS' easement programs allows effective integration of wetland restoration on working landscapes, providing benefits to farmers who enroll in the program, as well as benefits to their communities.
WREP partners must provide a cash and/or in-kind match toward easement acquisition due diligence costs or restoration costs. Match dollars used for outreach activities can be no more than ten percent of overall partner contributions. Proposals that go above and beyond required contributions will be given higher consideration.
Partners interested in WREP are encouraged to attend a virtual Partner Proposal Workshop on October 22 to discuss FY2021 program and ranking criteria changes. If you are interested in attending this workshop, please e-mail Lisa McCauley, WREP National Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. This session will be recorded, and the recording will be available on the National WREP Website.
Eligible partners may email proposals for individual projects, watershed-wide or larger geographical area projects to Gerald Roach, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs at email@example.com.