LITTLE ROCK, Ark., (NRCS) Dec. 1, 2011 – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Mike Sullivan today announced landowners have until Jan. 27, 2012, to sign up for 2012 funding consideration through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
"Arkansas is second in the nation in WRP wetland restoration with more than 200,000 acres restored," Sullivan said. "We are particularly interested in restoring bottomland hardwoods and hydrology in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, the majority of which lies in our state, and in the Red River and Arkansas River valleys."
Wetlands are areas saturated by water all or most of a year. Often called "nature's kidneys," wetlands naturally filter contaminants out of water. Wetlands also recharge groundwater, prevent flooding and soil erosion, and slow the flow of water that runs across the surface of the land.
Funded through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) WRP is a voluntary program that helps landowners address wetland and wildlife natural resource concerns on private lands. WRP participants limit their future use of the land, but retain private ownership.
WRP offers permanent easements that pay 100 percent of the value of an easement and up to 100 percent of easement restoration costs, and 30-year easements that pay up to 75 percent of the value of an easement and up to 75 percent of easement restoration costs. WRP also offers restoration cost-share agreements to restore wetland functions and values without placing an easement on enrolled acres; NRCS pays up to 75 percent of restoration costs.