Bush Administration asks Congress to Fully Fund the Wetland Reserve Program

250,000 Acres for USDA's No. 1 Wetlands Program

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2006 - Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns announced Monday that the Bush administration's 2007 budget request to Congress requests full funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The popularity and demand for the wetlands conservation program among landowners was the reason given for the full funding request.

Full funding of WRP would allow for enrollment of 250,000 acres in 2007, the full yearly authorized amount in the Farm Bill. WRP is the key component in meeting the president's promise to create, improve and protect at least 3 million wetland acres over a five-year period that ends in 2009. A large portion of these acres will greatly benefit America's waterfowl. The president's request for WRP would increase WRP spending by almost 35 percent.

"Ducks Unlimited applauds the administration's decision to increase the WRP acreage funding request to Congress," said DU Executive Vice President Don Young. "This will certainly help waterfowl populations, as well as other wildlife. This increase in WRP acres is greatly needed, because the demand for this program is so strong among landowners. It's also great for working farms and ranches, because it allows farmers to farm the best and conserve the rest."

The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program that provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to restore, enhance and protect wetlands. Landowners can enroll eligible lands through permanent easements, 30-year easements or restoration cost-share agreements. This low-cost program allows landowners the opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife habitat enhancement practices and protection on marginal flood-prone land.

Young says DU will now work with Congress to ensure the president's WRP budget and acreage request is approved.

"Our Ducks Unlimited members look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the 250,000-acre request is fully funded in 2007," Young said. "The Wetlands Reserve Program remains a core conservation program for us in the next Farm Bill."

DU has played a lead role in Washington, D.C., working with the administration and Congress to make sure that the conservation provisions of the Farm Bill, like WRP, are carried out.

"This is good news that the administration is responsive to the concerns of the conservation community, as well as farmers," said DU Government Affairs Representative for Agriculture Bart James. "WRP is a vital program to all DU members and is critical to our wetland and waterfowl conservation mission nationwide."
 
Contact: Bart James
Ducks Unlimited Government Affairs
Representative for Agriculture
202-347-1530
bjames@ducks.org
 

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetlands and waterfowl conservation group. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands nature's most productive ecosystem and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres every year.