Applications due by April 1 for Wetland Reserve Program

RENO, Nev. — Funds are available to Nevada landowners and Tribes to restore, protect and enhance wetlands under the Wetland Reserve Program of the 2008 Farm Bill. Nevada landowners should apply on or before April 1 to be considered for funding this year.

WRP is a voluntary program administered by NRCS that provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Indian Tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture. Compatible uses may be granted for appropriate and approved agricultural activities. Funds are available for the purchase of wetland conservation easements, restoration agreements, or to install restoration practices. Applicants for permanent easements must have owned the land for at least 7 years, although NRCS may waive this ownership requirement.

Approved easement participants will receive 75 percent of the value established by the lower amount of either an appraisal or the geographic area rate cap. For example, if the land has a fair market value of $1,000,000 and the GARC value is $900,000, then the compensation would be 75 percent of $900,000 or $675,000. The landowner may also offer a lower value to enhance the probability of program enrollment.

According to Nevada NRCS WRP manager Peggy Hughes, eligible landowners may enroll in one or a combination of the following enrollment options:  restoration cost-share agreement for a length of 10 years plus the length of time to complete scheduled restoration practices; permanent easement for perpetuity; or for Indian Tribes, a 30-year contract or 30-year easement on acreage owned by them.

Eligible land can include farmed or converted wetlands, lands substantially altered by flooding, former or degraded wetlands, riparian areas, and wetlands restored under another programs. Examples of ineligible land include land with existing easement or deed restrictions, converted wetlands, lands were water rights cannot be assured, and other conditions.

Wetlands provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals; reduce flooding; recharge groundwater; protect biological diversity; and provide opportunities for educational, scientific, and limited recreational activities.

All WRP program eligibility requirements for the participant and the land must be met to enroll in the program. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis but must be submitted on or before April 1 to be considered for funding this year. To apply for WRP, contact your local NRCS office. For complete details, contact Hughes at (775) 857-8500 x 103 or visit our Web site at http://www.nv.nrcs.usda.gov.

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