(NAFB)--Landowners can now apply for the voluntary Wetlands Reserve and Grassland Reserve Programs. A new round of funding authorizes 255-million dollars to enroll up to 100-thousand additional acres into WRP and 47-million dollars to enroll up to 200-thousand additional acres into GRP. Sign-up dates and deadlines vary by state - so those interested in these programs should contact their state of local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office. NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller says the benefits of reserved wetlands reach well beyond their boundaries to improve watershed health, the vitality of agricultural lands and the aesthetics and economies of local communities. He says the conservation of working grasslands enhances plant and animal biodiversity while protecting the land.
Landowners can restore and protect wetland ecosystems on private and tribal lands through the Wetlands Reserve Program. They have a choice between a permanent or 30-year easement and a restoration cost-share agreement - retaining ownership of the land once the agreement is in place. More than 11-thousand landowners are currently participating in the program - protecting more than 2.6-million acres of America’s wetlands.
Through the Grassland Reserve Program - landowners and managers apply for conservation easements or rental agreements that support conservation of working grazing operations, enhancement of plant and animal biodiversity and protection of grassland under threat of conversion to other uses.