Temple, Texas – Texas landowners who are interested in cost-share funding for restoring degraded wetlands need to sign-up for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office by Feb. 16, 2007.

The program provides financial and technical assistance to help landowners protect, restore, and enhance the original wetland hydrology and vegetation of eligible lands. Eligible lands can include agricultural lands farmed under natural conditions, degraded wetlands, and certain riparian areas. The program provides habitat for migratory birds and wetland dependent wildlife and improves wetland functions and water quality.

Last year, seven applications were funded, producing almost $4 million in easement and restoration payments and permanently protecting 1,996 acres of wetlands in Texas.

Landowners with eligible wetlands interested in the WRP may enroll for a permanent or 30-year conservation easement or a restoration cost-share agreement. NRCS may purchase a conservation easement and restore the hydrology and native vegetation. Under restoration agreements, NRCS will pay up to 75 percent of the costs associated with establishing the restoration.

The WRP is administered by the NRCS in agreement with the Farm Service Agency and in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other cooperating agencies and organizations.

Additional information on the WRP can be found on the Texas NRCS Web site at http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp.html.