May is American Wetlands Month. Farmers, growers, ranchers and private landowners in Florida have worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to create, restore and enhance wetlands for decades. They have incorporated wetlands into their operations for benefits to the environment and their land. To help realize these benefits they have worked with USDA for assistance through its programs and services.
NRCS offers financial and technical assistance to farmers and private landowners through programs to create, restore and enhance wetlands. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s (ACEP) Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component offers opportunities to put marginal cropland and other eligible land into permanent and 30-year easements. NRCS accepts ACEP WRE applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment periods. Each state sets the application deadlines for enrollment periods.
NRCS is using creative methods to help farmers and private forest landowners meet farm bill goals through its Wetland Mitigation Bank Program. Wetland mitigation banking helps restore, create or enhance wetlands to compensate for unavoidable impacts on wetlands at other locations. Working with states, local governments and American Indian tribes, NRCS helps them develop wetland mitigation banks. NRCS is currently accepting proposals for new projects through July 6, 2020.
In Florida, NRCS has acquired 142 ACEP WRE conservation easements that are protecting 189,866 acres of wetland ecosystems.
As we celebrate American Wetlands Month, producers, partners, educators and others deserve thanks for helping to protect wetlands.
If you are a farmer or private landowner interested in learning more about wetlands, contact your local USDA Service Center. USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible.
Read about a Florida family active in citrus that has been recognized for its environmental stewardship.
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