wetlandsThe U.S.D.A. awarded $3 million to the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service for efforts to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands.

John Paulin, a wetlands restoration specialist with the agency, says that $3 million is about one-third of what they get every year for the Wetlands Reserve Easement Program.

Paulin says, “We’re able to leverage partner funding against our other funding to be able to complete additional conservation on the ground and bring to bear whatever resources our partners have to bring these projects to fruition.”

The U.S.D.A. is announcing a total of $30 million in grants for conservation improvements in six states: Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska and Tennessee. In Iowa, Paulin says the money will go to several counties in the north-central and northwest regions for restoration of large prairie pothole complexes, which cover between 100 and 200 acres.

Paulin says Iowans who are interested in wetlands restoration can apply for assistance any time. He says, “If a producer has a piece of ground that has historically been too wet to be productive, the easement program provides an opportunity to provide them with some financial benefit to that ground whereas before, they might have been struggling with crop struggling with crop production on it.”

Paulin says the wetland restoration program is very popular in Iowa. He says they have close to 16,000 easements and nearly 180,000 acres that have been protected through the program over the past 20 years.

(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)