The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of North Dakota and NRCS. This MOU allows NRCS to consider applications to the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) that were previously excluded due to unclear land ownership.
“This MOU enables NRCS to move forward with the WRP funding and play a small part in relieving the frustration of the producers in the Devils Lake Basin of North Dakota” said White. “NRCS is committed to implementing this provision of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill), and we appreciate all parties that worked together to resolve the issues that precluded full implementation.”
The MOU affects landowners in the Devils Lake Basin of North Dakota whose lands are currently impacted by the high waters of Devils Lake. Applications for forty landowners, who collectively own an estimated 5200 acres, will be able to move forward. Additional landowners with flooded lands will be able to apply to the WRP program as well. The MOU makes available approximately $3 million in financial assistance for program participants.
On Monday, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Devils Lake, ND and discussed the importance of moving quickly to allow USDA to enroll pending applications to WRP. Finalizing this agreement is a tribute to the Members of Congress, and State and Federal agencies that were involved in resolving this issue.
The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to enable owners of eligible farmland to restore, enhance, and protect wetlands on their property and thereby address wetland, wildlife habitat, and related natural resource concerns in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. With the majority of remaining wetland on private property, WRP’s engagement of private landowners is an important component of wetland protection. The 2008 Farm Bill included new authority to enroll lands inundated by closed basin lakes or potholes into in WRP and this MOU allows USDA to fulfill the provision of the Farm Bill and meet WRP regulations.
For more information on WRP online, visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp/. For information on other NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov, or visit the nearest USDA Service Center in your area. 2010 represents the 75th year of NRCS “helping people help the land.” Since its inception, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.
Source: USDA and NRCS
Posted by Kaci Switzer