USDA to Invest $5 Million in Wetland Mitigation Banks
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2021 – The USDA is investing up to $5 million in the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program (WMBP), a grant program that supports the development of mitigation banks for use by agricultural producers seeking to maintain eligibility for USDA programs. Funds are available to Tribes, government entities, nonprofits, and other organizations.
“Our goal is to make sure agricultural producers have the tools they need to successfully farm or ranch and conserve natural resources,” said Terry Cosby, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “Wetlands are critical to our efforts to respond to the climate crisis, and wetland mitigation banks enable the restoration or creation of wetlands for the purpose of compensating for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location. The Wetland Mitigation Banking Program helps states, local governments, and other qualified partners restore, create, and enhance wetland ecosystems.”
To participate in most USDA programs, agricultural producers agree to comply with the wetland conservation provisions, which means producers will not farm converted wetlands or convert wetlands to enable agricultural production. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the Farm Bill allows for off-site mitigation through the purchase of mitigation banking credits.
About the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program
NRCS awarded the first WBMP grants in 2016 and so far, has supported the creation or expansion of wetland mitigation banks in 11 states. So far, 21 wetland bank sites have been established through the program, totaling 313 acres. Several more sites have been secured and are in various stages of the restoration process. The 2018 Farm Bill provided an opportunity for funding for this program through fiscal 2023.
NRCS is prioritizing funds in states with large amounts of wetlands as well as large amounts of producers with wetland determination requests. This includes Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Awardees may use WMBP funding to support mitigation bank site identification, development of a mitigation banking instrument, site restoration, land surveys, permitting and title searches, and market research. WMBP funding cannot be used to purchase land or a conservation easement.
NRCS is accepting proposals through Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. ET on August 13, 2021.
To learn more, visit the WMBP webpage.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.