Natural Resources Conservation Service: Two wetland funding program options
April 4, 2011
HURON, SD – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Janet Oertly, Huron, has announced the availability of funds for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and specifically the WRP Flooded Prairie Pothole option in South Dakota. Landowners are encouraged to apply now as the deadline to sign an application is April 15, 2011.
Wetlands have much to offer such as improved water quality, floodwater retention and wildlife habitat. “This voluntary program offers an opportunity for relieving the burden of trying to farm marginal lands and provides landowners with an economic gain from a conservation easement,” said Oertly. The WRP pays landowners to protect, restore and enhance wetlands. “Not only is the WRP good for the wetland and adjacent upland habitat,” she explained, “But, restoring wetlands through WRP can offer a source of income for landowners.”
Within the regular WRP, there is an additional category called Prairie Pothole Special Enrollment Option. Given the current flooding situation in much of eastern South Dakota, NRCS wanted to make sure landowners were aware of this option that includes a special 30-year easement option for cropland or grassland that was used for agricultural production prior to flooding from the natural overflow of a prairie pothole (closed basin). In addition, she noted, land coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) may be eligible for WRP.
Landowners can contact their local NRCS office or go online to view the per acre values for their county: http://www.sd.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WRP.html. Oertly said, “Values paid for easements are at some of their highest. For example, the Marshall County value for non cropland is $686 per acre for a 30 year easement.”
“Funds are available now,” said Oertly and she encourages any landowner not to wait until the last minute to visit their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center. “With the past few year’s flooding, and saturated ground in some areas, now is the time to look at the economic return on those marginal acres.
For a no-obligation consultation, contact your local NRCS office or call the WRP Program Manager, Sara Thompson, Huron, at 605-352-1200. For information on technical assistance and conservation programs go to http://www.sd.nrcs.usda.gov.