Wisconsin will share in a $44.6 million award through the USDA's Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the investment supports 10 wetland enhancement projects on private and tribal agricultural lands in 12 states, including Wisconsin. Recipients for each project are providing more than $4.3 million in matching funds, bringing the total investment to approximately $49 million. In total, the projects will help to protect, restore or enhance 15,000 wetland acres in critical watersheds across the United States.
'USDA 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 Vilsack. 'By collaborating with private partners at the local and regional level, USDA is able to support innovative conservation solutions and expand the amount of dedicated resources. These are high impact projects that will ensure our land and water resources are healthy now and for the next generation.'
The Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). WREP helps states, local governments, Tribes and other organizations collaborate with NRCS to work with private and Tribal landowners to voluntarily enroll eligible land into conservation easements that protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property. WREP is a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
Wisconsin will work to improve habitat quality of WRE properties by increasing participation in management by WRE landowners. More than 600 properties are enrolled in WRE and WREP in Wisconsin encompassing more than 60,000 acres throughout the state. The abundant and widespread distribution of WRE properties makes it difficult to secure large-scale shared management agreements as is common practice in nearby states such as Nebraska and Missouri. In order to increase the use of cost-effective management across WRE properties, this project will work to increase engagement in management of WRE properties by landowners.
States with wetlands projects include Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington.