Conservation Easements Help Wetlands Thrive in Oregon
May is American Wetlands Month and this year we want to celebrate all the work private landowners have done to help wetlands thrive. In Oregon, private landowners have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to enroll 58,836 acres in wetlands. Across the country, over 2.8 million acres have been enrolled through wetland conservation easements. These wetlands protect plants and provide habitat for wildlife, including endangered or threatened species.
Wetlands are one of our most productive ecosystems and provide enrichment and enjoyment. They also filter water, reduce soil loss, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, reduce flooding, and recharge groundwater. They even provide recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing.
Farmers, ranchers, and private landowners in Oregon have worked with NRCS to create, restore, and enhance wetlands for decades. They have incorporated wetlands into their operations for the benefits to the environment and their land. To help realize these benefits they have worked with USDA for assistance through its programs and services.
Wetland easements are also crucial to wildlife:
NRCS offers financial and technical assistance to farmers and private landowners through programs to create, restore, and enhance wetlands. The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)’s Wetland Reserve Easement component offers opportunities to put marginal cropland and other eligible land into permanent and 30-year easements. NRCS accepts ACEP WRE applications year round but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment periods. Each state sets the application deadlines for enrollment periods. NRCS will hold its next signup in winter 2021/22.
As we celebrate the month, our producers, partners, educators and others deserve thanks for helping to protect wetlands.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.
If you are a farmer or private landowner interested in learning more about wetlands, please contact your local USDA Service Center to set up an in-person or phone appointment. Because of the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors, but staff continue to work via phone, email, and other digital tools. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.