Private landowners interested in enhancing, restoring and protecting wetlands are encouraged to get their applications in soon. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set February 26, 2021, as the deadline for considering applications for Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) in California.
“Wetland easements provide private landowners with an opportunity to voluntarily protect and restore wetlands on frequently flooded, marginal land that is difficult to farm,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in California. “NRCS has used our easement programs to restore and protect a wide diversity of wetland types from freshwater wetlands in the Central Valley to high mountain meadows in the Sierra Nevada.”
WRE is a voluntary incentive program that provides compensation to farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners for land placed in wetland conservation easements. Both perpetual and 30-year duration easements are available. In addition, NRCS provides technical assistance and funding for restoring easement wetlands. NRCS covers 100% of the restoration costs for perpetual easements and shares the restoration cost (75% NRCS and 25% landowner) for 30-year easements.
As part of WRE program, California NRCS is also offering a wetlands grazing option in three geographic areas: 1) California coastal pastures and wetlands of the north coast; 2) Central Valley vernal pools; and 3) intermountain wetlands of northeastern California. This option allows participants with an NRCS approved wetlands grazing plan to enroll grazed land as part of their conservation easement.
While NRCS accepts WRE applications throughout the year, the agency plans to make 2021 funding decisions from the pool of applications received by February 26. As with all NRCS easements, the landowner retains the title to the land, and the right to control access and recreational use. The land remains on the tax rolls.