USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service seeks public comments on the Wetlands Reserve Program. The 2008 Farm Bill reauthorized and amended the program, and an interim final rule was published in last Thursday’s Federal Register.

WRP helps landowners restore their land to its natural wetland condition with an emphasis on priority wildlife habitat and environmental benefits, says NRCS chief Arlen Lancaster. “I invite anyone who is interested in wetlands conservation to review this interim final rule and to provide us written comments.”

WRP provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to address wetland, wildlife habitat, soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on private agricultural land. The program provides landowners financial incentives to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. This voluntary program strives to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values and optimize wildlife habitat on every enrolled acre. To date, more than 2 million acres have been enrolled in the program.

USDA encourages written comments on the interim final rule from individuals, as well as governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, during the 60-day comment period. To view the interim final rule, click here.

WRP has been a popular program with landowners because it helps them reach their own personal land use goals and helps provide entire communities with the benefits that wetlands offer, says Lancaster. “Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They provide countless economic and environmental benefits to local communities.”

Source: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Services