Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in December that the nation's farmers, ranchers, and Native American tribes enrolled more than 272,000 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) during fiscal year 2010, the highest single-year enrollment since the program began in 1990. More than 2.3 million acres are currently enrolled in WRP nationwide.
This Farm Bill conservation program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and is the federal government's largest wetlands restoration program. WRP is designed to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Native American tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands that have been degraded or converted for agricultural use.
Ducks Unlimited has been a strong partner with the NRCS in delivering WRP since the program's inception. "WRP is our nation's most important wetland restoration program," said Dan Wrinn, DU's director of public policy in Washington, D.C. "We are pleased that under NRCS Chief Dave White's leadership and the dedication of NRCS staff across the nation, WRP projects are benefiting waterfowl and other wildlife like never before."
In some states, more than 90 percent of wetlands have been lost, making every acre restored through WRP vitally important to waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as hunters and other outdoor recreationists. Wetlands restored through WRP also help control flooding, reduce soil erosion, and improve water quality throughout vast watersheds.
Last year's enrollment of 272,762 acres increased the nation's WRP enrollment by 12 percent. A total of 1,414 WRP contracts were funded at a cost of more than $592 million. In addition, wetland restoration work was completed on 129,000 acres of WRP land during the past fiscal year.
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