Indiana’s State Conservationist Jane Hardisty today announced the establishment of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. Through the program, NRCS will provide $9 million nationwide to help states, local governments or other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks. This program broadens the conservation options available to farmers in Indiana so they can maintain eligibility for other USDA programs.
“Over the past seven years, NRCS has worked with private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation practices around the country and we are seeing significant reductions in nutrient runoff and greenhouse gas emissions. Wetland Mitigation Banks will give farmers more conservation options so they can find the best solution for their land which will help provide even more positive results,” Hardisty said.
Wetland mitigation banking is a market-based approach that involves restoring, creating, or enhancing wetlands in one place to compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location. Wetland mitigation banking is commonly used to compensate for wetland impacts from development, but can also be used to offset impacts from agriculture. The mitigation banks established under this program will be used to help agricultural producers who need to mitigate wetland losses to maintain eligibility for USDA programs. Currently there are no mitigation banks in Indiana.
According to Hardisty, Indiana has been designated a priority state for funding because of the significant number of requests for wetland determinations by private landowners in the past few years. Priority will also be given to applications based on the speed with which mitigation credits can be made available to agricultural producers.
NRCS is seeking applications from eligible third-parties which include state and local units of government; for-profit entities; and nongovernmental organizations. Funds can be used to develop wetland mitigation banks, or modify existing banks to better serve agricultural producers.
The maximum award provided through this announcement is up to $1 million to develop, operate, and manage the wetlands mitigation banks. This funding may be used to cover the administrative and technical costs associated with the development of the mitigation bank or banking program. Funds may not be used to purchase an easement or any other interest in land.
Project proposals are due before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 28, 2016. The announcement and associated forms for this funding opportunity can be found at www.grants.gov.
For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/ or contact your District Conservationist Deb Knepp or Soil Conservationist James Rodriguez at 574-936-2024 Ext. 4.