The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced funding for 13 partnership agreements for high-priority wetland restoration and conservation work in 12 states. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and a network of partners have nearly $15 million in financial and technical assistance available for these projects in 2012 and will enter into long-term agreements to deliver additional assistance over the next four years.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the projects were selected because of their significant contribution towards wetlands restoration, enhancement or protection. “This partnership effort combines federal resources with the funding and expertise of others needed to improve water quality, prevent flooding and enhance wildlife habitat on more than 16,500 acres of wetlands,” he states.

The Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) is a special component of the NRCS' Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Through WRP, private landowners can restore and permanently protect wetlands. WREP works differently—partners such as nongovernmental organizations and state agencies contribute technical and financial assistance to leverage NRCS' funding. These partners identify special WREP project areas where they plan to focus wetlands restoration and protection efforts. Private landowners located within awarded areas can work with NRCS and the partner to restore and protect wetlands. Participants retain ownership and access to the land and may be able to generate income from grazing or recreation approved by NRCS.

Learn more about WREP at http://go.usa.gov/m24