December 11, 2022

Department of Agriculture increases funding for wetlands

Stillwater National Refuge is located northeast of Fallon.
American fish and wildlife

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing up to $20 million in fiscal year 2023 to help conservation partners nationwide protect and restore critical wetlands through Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership, according to a press release.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service prioritizes proposals that support efforts to mitigate climate change by restoring wetlands while prioritizing assistance to underserved communities. Last year, the NRCS funded $11 million in partnerships. Partner proposals are due September 23.
“Restoring and protecting wetlands can improve water quality, improve wildlife habitat and help fight climate change. Partnerships are absolutely critical to this work,” said Ray Dotson, NRCS State Ecologist in Nevada. “Our partners can help us connect with historically underserved communities here in Nevada and across the country, and these projects can also increase equity in conservation opportunities.”
Restored wetlands help improve downstream water quality, improve wildlife habitat, reduce flood impacts, and provide recreational benefits. The land most sought after for the WREP program is referred to as “marginal,” meaning it is not producing at full capacity due to repeated flooding or standing water.
Removing marginal land from production can provide economic benefits to farm owners while restoring wetlands to fully perform their functions and values.
Through WREP projects, eligible conservation partners protect, restore, and enhance high-priority wetlands on farmland. The WREP enables effective integration of wetland restoration onto working agricultural landscapes, providing significant benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program and to communities where wetlands exist.
The WREP will continue to prioritize the enrollment of historically underserved landowners in its ranking of proposals. This includes proposals that include:
• Target locations with historically underserved producers;
• Focus outreach on historically underserved producers;
• Provide assistance with application documents and help resolve heir ownership and title issues.
• Partners target outreach and registration priorities supported by NRCS, including locations affected by natural disasters. Eligible partners include tribes, state and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. WREP partners are required to contribute a financial or technical assistance fund.
This WREP funding is for fiscal year 2023, which begins October 1.
How to register
Partners interested in applying should contact their state NRCS office for more information. Proposals must be submitted by September 23.
Partners interested in learning more about WREP funding opportunities for FY2023 are encouraged to attend the WREP Virtual Workshop on August 17 at 10 a.m. Contact Lisa McCauley at [email protected] for login information. The webinar will be recorded and available to all partners who cannot attend.
The WREP is part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which is a Farm Bill conservation program. Through the WREP, states, local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and Native American tribes collaborate with the NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements.
These partners work with tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land in easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties.