What is in this article?:
- Wetlands program enrollment unprecedented
- How WRP is helping farmers
• WRP, the federal government's largest wetlands restoration program, provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Indian Tribes to restore, protect and enhance wetlands that have been degraded or converted for agricultural uses. More than 80 percent of restorable wetlands are in private ownership. Participation in WRP is voluntary.
How WRP is helping farmers
• In Bedford County, Va., WRP is helping one farm family address water quality concerns, which will ultimately improve animal health, and enhance wildlife habitat on their livestock operation. A total of 11 acres were enrolled into the WRP, including two vulnerable streams that ran across the property. With technical and financial assistance from WRP, fencing will be installed to prevent cattle access to the wetland area, thus reducing sediments and nutrient runoff into the stream; and native hardwood trees will be planted to enhance habitat for birds and other wildlife.
• Two Louisiana neighbors in East Carroll Parish were looking for ways to improve their farms operations — both financially and environmentally when they decided to enter their marginal farmland into WRP. The program payments gave them the financial security to invest more funds into their operations for animal health and land improvements. This voluntary restoration effort will continue to improve water quality and enhance habitat for migratory birds in the Mississippi River Basin for years to come.
• One California landowner in Colusa County signed up for WRP when farming on his flood-prone land was no longer profitable to his operation. WRP provided easement and wetland restoration payments for the marginal farmland that he greatly needed to sustain a profitable operation. This project provided an opportunity for the landowner to reduce his financial burden, while providing much needed space for waterfowl and other wildlife species; reducing negative impacts from flooding; and increasing opportunities for recreational activities.
WRP is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In fiscal year 2010, NRCS restored 129,000 acres of wetlands on lands enrolled in WRP. NRCS offers WRP enrollment to private landowners and Indian Tribes on a continuous sign-up basis. The agency provides financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners and invests in wetland protection and restoration activities.
For more information, landowners can contact their local NRCS Service Center or visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp/.