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Wisconsin wetland conservation - NRCS grants funds

Wisconsin wetland conservation - NRCS grants funds

By Blake Jackson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering $7 million to support the development of wetland mitigation banks, which can benefit Wisconsin farmers. These banks help offset unavoidable wetland impacts on a farm by creating or restoring wetlands in another location.

"Wetlands are crucial for flood control, water filtration, and wildlife habitat," said Terry Cosby, Chief of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "This program offers Wisconsin farmers an alternative solution when they need to compensate for wetland impacts on their land."

NRCS is currently accepting proposals through until August 2nd, 2024. Tribes, government entities, non-profit organizations, and others can apply. A webinar for applicants will be held on June 12th. More details can be found on the WMBP website.

USDA programs require farmers to comply with wetland conservation. This means they cannot farm converted wetlands or convert wetlands for agriculture. If avoiding wetland impacts on their property is difficult, farmers can purchase credits from a mitigation bank to compensate for the loss.

Wetland mitigation banks are established on private land with a conservation easement restricting activities that could harm the wetlands. The landowner retains ownership of the property.

Wisconsin's Potential Benefits

Wisconsin is a priority state for the WMBP due to its significant wetland acreage and the number of farmers needing wetland determinations. Awarded funds can be used for activities like:

  • Identifying suitable mitigation bank sites
  • Developing a mitigation plan
  • Restoring wetland areas
  • Land surveys and permitting
  • Market research

Grants cannot be used for land purchase or conservation easements. Individual projects can request up to $1 million and last up to four years.

The NRCS encourages proposals from organizations representing underserved producers in agriculture. These producers play a vital role in a healthy agricultural economy and environmental sustainability.

Photo Credit: usda-nrcs

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