DAVIS, Calif., April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Private landowners interested in enhancing, restoring and protecting wetlands are encouraged to get their applications in soon. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has set May 15, 2014, as the deadline for considering projects for 2014 Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) funding through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
As part of WRE California NRCS is offering a wetlands grazing option in three geographic areas. This option allows participants with an approved wetlands conservation and grazing management plan to enroll grazed land as part of their WRE. The wetlands grazing option is available in the following areas: 1) California coastal pastures & wetlands of the north coast; 2) Central Valley vernal pools; and 3) intermountain wetlands of northeastern California.
"Wetland easements provide private landowners with an opportunity to voluntarily protect and restore wetlands on frequently flooded, marginal land that is difficult to farm," said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in California. "NRCS has used easement programs to restore and protect a wide diversity of wetland types from freshwater wetlands in the Central Valley to high mountain meadows in the Sierra Nevada."
ACEP, recently created in the 2014 Farm Bill, replaces the former Wetlands Reserve Program, Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, and Grassland Reserve Program while accomplishing many of the same conservation goals.
WRE is a voluntary option that provides compensation to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners, for land placed in wetland conservation easements, and cost-share funding for restoring degraded wetlands. WRE includes permanent easements that pay 100 percent of the easement value and restoration costs, and 30-year easements that pay up to 75 percent of the easement value and restoration costs.
While NRCS accepts WRE applications throughout the year, the agency plans to make 2014 funding decisions from the pool of applications received by May 15. As with all NRCS easements, the landowner retains the title to the land, and the right to control access and recreational use. The land remains on the tax rolls.
For more information on Wetland Reserve Easements, landowners can contact their local NRCS Service Center or visit www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.
Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.
CONTACT: Anita Brown (530) 792-5644
Alan Forkey (530) 792-5653
SOURCE USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service