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CONSERVATION CORNER
(For the week of March 22, 2010)
Financial Assistance Increased for the WRP
by James L. Cummins

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), a conservation program of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was renewed through Title II of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, better known as the Farm Bill. Wildlife Mississippi invested a lot of time working on the Bill, especially the WRP. The WRP is a voluntary program that protects, restores and enhances wetlands, while maximizing wildlife benefits. The NRCS manages the program and provides technical and financial support to help landowners who participate in the WRP.

While many of the provisions of the Farm Bill became effective in 2008, there has been an immediate change in easement compensation, which was one of the provisions that Wildlife Mississippi fought so hard to improve. Mississippi has recently completed the review of their geographic rate cap monetary for 2010. The geographic rate cap for Mississippi in 2010 with land located in Bolivar, Coahoma, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo Counties is $1,700 per acre for cropland and $1,200 per acre for catfish ponds. All other counties located in Mississippi will have an appraisal conducted for the specific offer.

Landowners in Mississippi with qualifying properties are encouraged to consider applying for the 2010 WRP. The WRP is a competitive program using a statewide ranking system to fund the most environmentally beneficial projects.

The application process for the WRP is continuous throughout the year. Funds are allocated annually for the purpose of purchasing easements and restoring wetlands on qualifying lands. Mississippi will be holding ranking periods throughout the year.

The NRCS is committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2007 Farm Bill and is eager to consult with all interested parties about the many benefits that the WRP and other programs have to offer. Interested landowners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS field service center to file an application.

For additional information on the WRP and other conservation programs available in Mississippi visit: www.ms.nrcs.usda.gov, www.wildlifemiss.org or contact your local USDA NRCS field service center.


James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi.