November 29, 2021

Sign-up begins for Wetland Reserve Easements

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ivan Dozier, state conservationist, announced the application period for the fiscal year 2022 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program — Wetland Reserve Easements.

The purpose of the WRE program is to help landowners enhance and protect habitat for wetland wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, provide outdoor recreation and increase habitat for migratory waterfowl.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service wants landowners and farmers to know that “the first application cut-off date for fiscal year 2022 has been established,” Dozier said.

“We accept applications for WRE year-round. Applications NRCS receives that meet program eligibility by Dec. 10, 2021, will be considered for funding in our 2022 program.”

According to Dozier, land eligible for WRE includes farmed or converted wetlands that have been previously altered for agricultural production that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.

NRCS prioritizes applications based on the easement’s potential for improving water quality and protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

To enroll land through this program, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners and then they work together to develop and implement a wetland reserve plan to guide the restoration easement process. This plan restores, enhances and protects the wetland’s functions and values.

Applications for ACEP-WRE are continuous and can be submitted at any time. For 2022, Illinois NRCS has received $3.8 million in funding and will make funding decisions for eligible applicant interested in ACEP-WRE.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and eligible landowners can choose to enroll in either a permanent easement or a 30-year easement.

To apply for a wetland easement through ACEP-WRE, visit NRCS at your local USDA Service Center. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, producers should call to set up appointments with local NRCS office staff.

Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov to learn more.