Wetlands funding deserves praise

One of the keys to keeping our natural environment healthy is making certain that water resources are appropriately protected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is one of the components of the federal government charged with supporting initiatives that support that goal.

In October, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the department he heads is awarding $30 million to projects in six states designed “to protect, restore and enhance wetlands.”

Iowa is one of the states selected for this important conservation funding. The monies are being provided by one of the undertakings that was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill – the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Partnership.

“Through locally led partnerships like these, USDA is targeting conservation in the places that make sense, allowing us to address local concerns,” Vilsack said in a statement announcing the awards. “These projects will improve water quality, prevent flooding, enhance wildlife habitat and meet increasing conservation challenges on over 19,000 acres of wetlands.”

The focus and scope of the projects vary from state to state. In Iowa the effort being backed is described as follows by the USDA:

“Partners will acquire and restore 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. Partner contributions will nearly double the acres of wetlands that will be protected and restored. (The Natural Resources Conservation Service) plans to invest $3 million in this project.”

The Times-Republican agrees with Vilsack that healthy wetlands are important to the future of Iowa’s natural environment. The funding the secretary has announced deserves applause.