Wetland Mitigation Banking Programs could help conservation efforts

“We are seeing significant reductions in nutrient runoff and greenhouse gas emissions as a result of these conservation practices,” said Vilsack, who announced the new program during a conference call with ag media on Jan. 28.

USDA is establishing the Natural Resources Conservation Service Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, which will provide $9 million to help states, local governments or other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks that restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems.

The program, which was authorized in the Agricultural Act of 2014 or 2014 farm bill, will allow NRCS to broaden the conservation options currently available to farmers and ranchers so they can maintain eligibility for other USDA programs.

“Over the past seven years, USDA has worked with private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation practices,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Wetland Mitigation Banks will give farmers and ranchers more conservation options so they can find the best solution for their land and circumstances, and produce even more results.

“We are seeing significant reductions in nutrient runoff and greenhouse gas emissions as a result of these conservation practices,” said Vilsack, who announced the new program during a conference call with ag media on Jan. 28.

Wetland mitigation banking is a market-based approach that involves restoring, creating, or enhancing wetlands in one place to compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location, according to USDA.

It is commonly used to compensate for wetland impacts from development, but can also be used to offset impacts from agriculture. A small number of banks have been developed in the U.S. specifically to assist agriculture, and the mitigation banks established under this program will be used to help agricultural producers who need to mitigate wetland losses to maintain eligibility for USDA programs.

“Wetland Mitigation Banks will give farmers and ranchers more conservation options so they can find the best solution for their land and produce even more results,” said Kurt Readus, NRCS Mississippi state conservationist in Jackson.

Partners will develop, operate and manage the wetlands mitigation banks with technical oversight from NRCS. These mitigation credits will be marketed to farmers and ranchers. NRCS is prioritizing funding to locations that have a significant known wetland compliance workload. Priority will also be given to applications based on the speed with which mitigation credits can be made available to agricultural producers.

USDA is now accepting project proposals for this program. Proposals are due to NRCS before March 28, 2016. The announcement and associated forms for this funding opportunity can be found at www.grants.gov.

Learn more about NRCS conservation programs online or visit your local USDA service center.

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish