The world is making all sorts of progress when it comes to clean technology, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has just reached a milestone that also indicates some notable progress in environment restoration.
Since the start of the USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) two decades ago, the program has “restored more than 2.6 million acres of wetlands habitat across the U.S., creating prime wildlife habitat and helping the environment by holding and cleaning water,” according to a recent press release. 220 million acres of wetlands have been lost in the United States, which is why the USDA is dedicated to working with farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to help reverse the trend.
The WRP works with landowners to “protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on private and tribal lands, a mission that helps rural and urban communities throughout the country by reducing flood damage, contributing to groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration, and providing recreational opportunities.” 75% of wetlands are on private land, and the majority are located in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, and California.
Not only does the program provide a home for species of flora and fauna that provide water and waste filtration services, soil nutrient cycling, pollination, and carbon sequestration, but the wetlands also slow and store water, reducing the risk of flooding in nearby communities during severe weather events. The land also houses several endangered species such as the whooping crane, wood stork, bog turtle, and Louisiana black bear.
More than 11,000 landowners have participated with WRP since its start 20 years ago. The program provides assistance and great incentives for protecting and maintaining the property while protecting the ecosystem and surrounding communities, so it really is a win-win situation for landowners, the environment, and the animals who call the wetlands home.
Image CC licensed by tlindenbaum: Restored wetlands on a private farm.