Applications are now being accepted from Nebraska landowners who desire to restore a wetland on their property with the Wetlands Reserve Program at their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.
"Winter is a perfect time to start the process and get further information if you are interested in restoring a wetland," says Steve Chick, NRCS state conservationist. "Getting a wetland restored takes some time to design the wetlands work to be done, get an appraisal of the land, file an easement (if desired) on the land and actually get the restoration work completed. If a person came into the office today, it would be several months before all those factors are worked out. There is no commitment by the landowner till near the end of the process."
Wetlands provide several natural benefits. They can act as a filter for water that passes through or is stored there, they benefit wildlife in the wetland and the surrounding area, and they provide recreational activities like bird watching or lease hunting for landowners. "Wetlands can be grazed if it is part of the plan approved by NRCS," says Chick.
"Both the Senate and House versions of a new farm bill include a Wetlands Reserve Program so we are confident this program will remain," says Chick.
Landowners can select from three options: a 10-year restoration cost-share agreement, a 30-year conservation easement and permanent easements. WRP is a voluntary program and the landowner retains ownership and control.
"An inter-agency team led by NRCS will meet with the landowner to discuss the wetland restoration and so all questions about design, wildlife concerns, and plant varieties can be answered in one-stop," says Chick.
Nationwide, more that 1.9 million acres are enrolled in the program.
In Nebraska, more than 450 landowners have enrolled more than 62,800 acres into the program with 45,000 of those being restored lands.
"We can provide the financial assistance and technical design to complete the job. The WRP is a statewide program. We also have a special program called the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program to enroll wetlands along the west side of the Missouri River, from Ponca to Rulo," says Chick.
More information on restoring a wetland through WRP is available at www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ or at an NRCS office in any USDA Service Center.