November 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM CST - Updated July 3 at 11:50 AM
NOVEMBER 13, 2006 - Posted at 7:50 a.m. CST
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - Missouri ranks near the top among states participating in a federal program that converts farm ground to wetlands.
And some of the biggest tracts in the program are located in southeastern counties.
That's no surprise considering the region's ecological history. It was once covered largely in wetlands.
In New Madrid County alone, more than 5,500 acres have been enrolled in the program.
The U-S Department of Agriculture administers the program, paying landowners to convert their property into wetland tracts.
Most of the acreage is marginal farm ground, where flooding often destroys crops and cuts into farm profits. Converting farm ground to wetlands, then, is good both for the environment and a farmer's business.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)