The Department of Agriculture announced a $49 million public-private investment on Thursday to improve what USDA calls critical wetlands in 12 states, including Indiana. USDA is awarding $44.6 million through its Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership to support ten wetland enhancement projects. Recipients for each project are providing more than $4.3 million in matching funds, bringing the total investment to approximately $49 million. In total, the projects will help to protect, restore, or enhance 15,000 wetland acres in critical watersheds. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the projects will “ensure our land and water resources are healthy now and for the next generation.” The funding will help projects in Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The Indiana project involves the Wabash River Basin. This makes up approximately 2% of the area of the Mississippi River Basin (MRB) but contributes roughly 11% of the total nitrogen export from the MRB. In addition to providing important habitat for wildlife, floodplains are the last chance to treat water before it leaves a watershed. Project goals are to build on existing efforts of partnerships to reduce nutrient export from the Wabash River and to improve important migratory and wintering bird habitat. By enrolling 400 acres in WRE, this project will help improve both water quality and at-risk species habitat in the watersheds.
Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy
Proposed NRCS Investment: $1,500,000
Proposed Partner Investment: $79,000
Source: NAFB News Service