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Preserving wetlands gets a boost

By Staff | Jul 22, 2016

One of the keys to keeping our natural environment healthy is making certain that water resources are appropriately protected. On July 7, Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, announced that the USDA is awarding $44.6 million through its Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership to support 10 wetland enhancement projects in 12 states.

Nationally, it is expected that 15,000 wetland acres in watersheds across the United States will be protected, restored or enhanced as a result of these expenditures. Iowa was selected to receive funds.

According to information provided by USDA, the funds allocated for efforts in our state will promote wetland restoration in the prairie potholes region and assist flood-affected landowners in the Iowa and Cedar River watersheds.

The partnership will protect and restore up to 580 acres of prairie pothole wetlands and associated tallgrass prairie uplands on five sites within Prairie Pothole Joint Venture Priority Areas and Ducks Unlimited Living Lakes Initiative Emphasis Areas.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest $3 million in these Iowa undertakings. Through a private-public sector collaboration, it is anticipated that these federal dollars will stimulate a broader impact than would be possible with only the NRCS contribution. This program seeks to mobilize private sector resources rather than simply rely on government spending. That is an approach that makes it especially appealing. It is a good example of the appropriate use of tax dollars.

Farm News agrees with Vilsack that healthy wetlands are important to the future of Iowa’s natural environment. The funding the secretary has announced deserves applause and warrants support.

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