USDA to invest millions to restore Arkansas wetlands

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WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $11 million in five Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) projects to bring together partners and landowners to voluntarily return critical wetland functions to agricultural landscapes.

Two ongoing Arkansas projects are recipients of some of the funding.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is funding two new projects and providing additional funding to three existing ones that prioritize high-impact projects and provide assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers, according to a press release from the USDA.

These partnerships are part of USDA’s broader efforts to mitigate climate change by restoring wetlands while also prioritizing assistance to underserved communities.

Wetlands protection and restoration is a key component of our strategy to address climate change, and partnerships are essential to this work. This year, we focused our investments on projects that support historically underserved landowners, who we know face significant barriers in accessing USDA assistance for conservation. Our partners provide a direct link to these communities, and these projects will expand conservation opportunities.

Terry Cosby, NRCS Chief

The two ongoing Arkansas projects receiving additional funding are:

  • The Tri-State partnership, led by the Nature Conservancy, which seeks to enroll an additional 1,500 acres of wetlands as part of a multi-year effort in the project area. A minimum of 750 acres (50%) will be specifically targeted for enrollment of historically underserved landowners. This project focuses on restoration of forested wetlands within priority portions of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • The Lower Batture, led by the Mississippi River Trust, seeks to enroll 2,000 acres. A minimum of 250 acres (approximately 12.5%) will be specifically targeted for historically underserved landowner enrollment. This additional funding will expand the original project area along the lower Mississippi River to continue more sustainable land and water management in the river’s active floodplain and nearby flood-prone lands in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The two new projects are the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, seeking to enroll approximately 4,000 acres and the Athens Land Trust, which seeks to enroll 120 acres.

The other ongoing project is The Lower Wabash River & White River Oxbow project in Indiana and Illinois, led by The Nature Conservancy, seeking to enroll 1,000 acres.

More information about the WREP program is available on the WREP webpage.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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