Landowners in Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle, Graves and Ballard counties may now be eligible to receive federal compensation for restoring and protecting wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture. Rates range up to $3895/acre for cropland and up to $1948/acre for existing woodlands. Some properties may qualify for additional per acre incentive payments, based on location.
On Tuesday, March 27th at 8am there will be an informational landowner meeting, open to the public, at the Fulton County Extension Office, located in Hickman, KY for landowners in Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle, Graves and Ballard counties interested in learning more about the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program.
The Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) is a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has dedicated additional WREP funds through its new Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Implemented cooperatively by NRCS, The Nature Conservancy, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this new source of funding will assist landowners in all or parts of Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle, Graves and Ballard counties with restoring and protecting wetland habitats for wildlife while improving water quality locally and throughout the Mississippi River basin. The goals of this project are to:
• Restore 5,500 acres of wetlands in the Obion Creek, Bayou De Chien and Mayfield Creek watersheds by 2015.
• Reduce nutrient inputs to the Mississippi River from targeted watersheds.
• Improve and protect habitat for the federally-endangered Indiana Bat and for wetland associated wildlife.
Landowners enrolled in the WREP place an easement on their property, but retain ownership of their land and the right to sell or lease the land with the easement. Fulton County landowner Walt Goodman states “Enrollment into the program allowed me to purchase a ‘better’ row crop production farm and still own both farms.” Landowner’s reserved rights include control of access; title and right to convey such title; quiet enjoyment; undeveloped recreational uses such as hunting, fishing; and the right to subsurface resources (without disturbance to the easement).
Landowners may request authorization from NRCS to conduct certain management practices through a Compatible Use Agreement. Examples of these agreements include: development of food plots, mowing of levees and/or access roads, management of shallow water areas, etc.
More than one-third of the country’s threatened and endangered species live only in wetlands and an additional 20% use or inhabit wetlands at some time during their life. Wetlands play a critical role in filtering runoff from the land before it reaches open water. Scientists have estimated that wetlands may remove between 70-90% of entering nitrogen. Wetland vegetation typically traps 80-90% of sediment from runoff, preventing it from moving downstream.
Landowners interested in learning more or applying for assistance should contact Wetland Team members Donna Gilland (NRCS Conservationist) at (270) 247-9529 ext 220 or Shelly Morris (The Nature Conservancy) at (270) 748-0259.
Natural Resource Conservation Service was originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Since then, NRCS has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.