Natural Resources Conservation Service - Iowa State Office

05/29/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/30/2024 07:34

Biden-Harris Administration to Invest $50 Million in Projects that Restore Natural Functions and Values of Wetlands As Part of Investing in America Agenda

Press Release

Biden-Harris Administration to Invest $50 Million in Projects that Restore Natural Functions and Values of Wetlands As Part of Investing in America Agenda

Publish Date
May 29, 2024

Breadcrumb

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Biden-Harris Administration to Invest $50 Million in Projects that Restore Natural Functions and Values of Wetlands As Part of Investing in America Agenda

USDA to invest up to $50 million in FY24 through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership to support conservation partners with local projects that help protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands and help mitigate climate change.

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2024 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $50 million in fiscal year 2024 through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) to support conservation partners with local projects that help protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands and help mitigate climate change as part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda. With funding from the 2018 Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act-the largest climate investment in history, including historic funding for conservation easements and other conservation programs-WREP empowers eligible conservation partners to work with local agriculture producers to protect, restore and enhance high-priority wetlands on agricultural lands.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting proposals until August 16, 2024. NRCS is prioritizing proposals that focus on producers who conserve wetlands in or that are anticipated to benefit disadvantaged communities, contributing to NRCS' effort to advance equity and environmental justice in its delivery of conservation programs.

"Our goal is to leverage the Inflation Reduction Act's additional funding to help mitigate climate change through our conservation programs while protecting and improving critical natural resources like wetlands and wildlife habitat," said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. "The Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program takes a collective focus amongst partners and producers, with persistent engagement in conservation activities that helps grow the healthy functions and values of wetland ecosystems on working lands."

WREP enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working agricultural landscapes, providing meaningful benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program and to the communities where the wetlands exist.

Broader Biden Administration Efforts

WREP projects contribute to the Biden-Harris Administration's America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge, a new initiative to conserve and restore freshwater resources across the country. The Freshwater Challenge sets a bold, new national goal to protect, restore, and reconnect 8 million acres of wetlands and 100,000 miles of our nation's rivers and streams by 2030, and calls on conservation partners to advance their own actions in support of these shared goals.

WREP also advances President Biden's Justice40 Initiative, which sets a goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy, and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

How WREP Works

WREP is part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Through WREP, states, local units of government, non-governmental organizations, and Tribal Nations collaborate with NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with Tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. This includes marginal croplands, which are less productive because of repeated flooding or standing water.

NRCS is committed to the success of all of our nation's producers, businesses and partners. Some of our nation's producers belong to communities that have been marginalized or that are marginalized, which reduced the ability to farm and ranch successfully. These producers play a vital role in securing a healthy agricultural economy for our country and protecting, enhancing and sustaining our valuable natural resources. NRCS encourages proposal submissions from entities that represent, are partnered with, or are composed entirely of producers belonging to these communities.

Wetland easements protect habitats for wildlife and are also excellent "carbon sinks" that offer much needed buffers from flood waters while providing resiliency to productive agricultural lands.

Restoring wetland ecosystems helps filter sediments and chemicals to improve water quality downstream, enhance wildlife and aquatic habitat, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and offers recreational benefits.

Eligible partners include Tribes, state and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. WREP partners are required to contribute a financial or technical assistance fund match. Proposals must be limited to $10 million in federal funding and should include a breakdown of project activities.

Through the 2018 Farm Bill, NRCS has invested approximately $104 million in WREP projects.

How to Apply

Partners should apply through their NRCS state office. This NRCS bulletin has additional information on how to apply.

Partners looking to learn more about opportunities for WREP funding for fiscal year 2024 are encouraged to attend the WREP workshop on June 20, 2024, at 2 p.m. EST. Partners interested in attending should contact Ken Kriese, national ACEP-Wetland Reserve Easements program manager, at [email protected] to be added to the Teams invitation.

More Information

This new funding provides $25 million from the 2018 Farm Bill and an equal amount from President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, the largest clean energy and climate investment in history. Funds will be delivered through the ACEP - Wetland Reserve Easements.

To strengthen implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, NRCS is streamlining ACEP, to ensure that the program is easier and more convenient to use. Specifically, NRCS is streamlining ACEP appraisals, land surveys and certifying eligible entities who help NRCS and producers enroll land into agricultural land easements. Additionally, NRCS is working with partners to help NRCS to increase capacity and acquire more conservation easements.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America's food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.