A green field overlooks a calm river and wetlands.
Mississippi River A field overlooks a portion of the Mississippi River. © Robert J. Hurt

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NRCS Announces Deadline for Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership Funding

The WREP program benefits Tennessee farmers who voluntarily take land out of agriculture to benefit wildlife and prevent future flooding.

The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced an application deadline for fiscal year 2022 funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which includes special emphasis projects through NRCS partnerships with the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP).  Private landowners or entities are encouraged to apply by Friday, February 11, 2022.

Farmers can now apply for conservation easements in West Tennessee. These easements provide financial assistance to farmers who voluntarily take their frequently flooded lands out of agricultural use. The program benefits nature by restoring these wetland areas to bottomland hardwood forest and reconnecting the floodplain to the Mississippi River. Areas eligible for funding include the watersheds of the south fork of Obion River, Forked Deer, and North Fork Forked Deer in Dyer, Gibson, Crockett, Madison, Henderson, Lauderdale, Obion, Weakley, Carroll, Lake and Henry counties Tennessee.

ACEP-WREP easements can be enrolled as 30-year or perpetual, based on the landowner(s) desired management of the offered property. 30-year easements are valued at 25 percent less than perpetual easements and landowners are responsible for 25 percent of restoration costs whereas perpetual easements are eligible for a 100 percent restoration cost-share. Alternatively, landowners have the option to offer their property at a reduced purchase and/or restoration cost to improve application ranking.  Easement compensation rates are established each year. Although, rates have not yet been established for fiscal year 2022, rates for 2021 ranged from $3,150 to $3,800 per acre for open land and $2,200 per acre for woodland. Compensation rates are based on county location.

Applications received after the designated cutoff date of Friday, February 11 will be considered in the next program year or in subsequent application periods, if announced. If a landowner is applying for ACEP on multiple parcels of land, any non-contiguous parcels must be submitted as separate applications. Contiguous multiple parcels may be submitted as one application, provided the ownership is identical for each parcel.

Entities and landowners interested in applying for ACEP-WREP funding should contact their local NRCS Service Center

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.