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SG-W:/ Fwd: Federal wetlands program (was: [migreens] Duh-bya Not Just A Liar)
- Subject: SG-W:/ Fwd: Federal wetlands program (was: [migreens] Duh-bya Not Just A Liar)
- From: Steve Bean <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 9 Apr 01 09:11:39 -0400
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
Does anyone know for sure if Michigan landowners are eligible for the
programs (wetland, forest, wildlife habitat) described in the article
below? Anyone in Washtenaw taking advantage of them or anyone spreading
the word about them? Do our legislators support these programs?
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Date: 04/06 8:46 PM
Received: 04/06 6:05 PM
From: John Gear, firstname.lastname@example.org
But a fool as well.
WETLANDS PROGRAM FACES BUDGET AX
Friday, April 6, 2001
By KATHIE DURBIN, Columbian staff writer
The Bush administration plans to end the popular Wetlands Reserve
which pays landowners to set aside some of their land for fish and
Last year, then-candidate George W. Bush praised such public-private
partnerships during a Northwest campaign stop.
"Instead of ignoring local efforts, we will encourage them," Bush said in
September while standing beside the Skykomish River with a salmon habitat
restoration project as a backdrop. He vowed to make such cooperative
projects a keystone of his administration's salmon strategy.
But his administration's 2002 budget, to be released Monday, eliminates
funding for all Department of Agriculture conservation programs that
next year. That includes the Wetlands Reserve Program, confirmed Gordon
Franklin, Clark County conservationist for the Natural Resources
Conservation Service, which administers the program.
In fact, the wetlands program will run out of money this year unless
Congress approves a short-term appropriation as it did last year, federal
Also scheduled for termination are the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
and the Forestry Incentive Program. Like the wetlands program, both pay
landowners to conserve and restore their land.
Northwest officials familiar with the wetlands program, authorized in the
1990 Farm Bill and greatly expanded in 1996, say its value is only now
becoming apparent as landowners face new federal requirements to protect
habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead.
"This has been the most popular program nationwide that we have had in a
long time," Franklin said. "The Wetlands Reserve Program is the answer
the private landowner who is affected by requirements to protect salmon
Added Steve Donovan, Vancouver-based regional biologist for Ducks
Unlimited: "For the local area, this program has probably done more to
protect habitat for endangered salmon than anything else we are
One attraction of the program is that it allows landowners to continue to
hunt waterfowl on their land. Another is that it is entirely voluntary.
The Bush administration may not realize how important the wetlands
has been in the regional effort to protect salmon habitat, Franklin said.
"They may see it as a program that is just giving away money," he added.
This year, the program will spend $164 million to protect 140,000 acres
In Southwest Washington alone, 19 landowners who want to take part in
the program have applications pending, Franklin said. Statewide, 92
landowners signed up for the program between 1998 and 2000, and more than
13,000 acres of wetlands have been protected at a cost of $19.5 million.
"We have a large backlog of people waiting to get funded," said Rachel
Maggi, Western Washington biologist for the conservation service. The
had hoped to get $500,000 in program funding this year, but recently
learned that its allocation has been cut to half that, Maggi said.
There are three ways to participate in the program:
* A landowner can offer to sell a
permanent easement. After the land is evaluated and an appraisal is
completed, the federal government may pay up to $2,500 per acre (in
Washington) for the easement. The program also provides federal money to
pay for restoration.
* A landowner can sell a 30-year
easement. In that case, the program pays up to $1,250 per acre.
* A landowner can choose not to sell an
easement but to make the land available for restoration, contributing 25
percent of the cost and agreeing to maintain the improvements for 10
"We don't just walk away from these
lands," Franklin said. "We plant trees and help with site preparation.
tough to plant trees in reed canary grass that's eight feet tall."
Nationwide, the wetlands program has been so popular that by last year
had protected nearly all of the 975,000 acres authorized in the 1996 Farm
Bill, said Terry Riley, director of conservation for the Wildlife
Management Institute in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit research institute
is funded by arms and ammunition manufacturers.
In response to the burgeoning demand, Congress last year approved
legislation that allowed the program to expand by 100,000 acres in 2001
provided emergency funding to pay for the expansion. That new cap will be
reached this year, Riley said. Without another expansion, a backlog of
eligible projects covering 560,000 acres of wetlands on more than 3,000
farms and ranches nationwide will go unfunded.
"I think, generally speaking, legislators really want to keep the
Reserve program," Riley said.
In Clark County, partners in the program have included the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife, Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation,
Ducks Unlimited. The program has been used to protect wetlands at La
Bottoms and the Vancouver Lake lowlands, as well as estuaries of the
and Chinook rivers near the mouth of the Columbia.
"When word gets out about this program, landowners come out of the
woodwork," Donovan of Ducks Unlimited said. "It is a huge part of our
restoration program in Oregon and Washington. Our engineers are involved
designing projects, bringing landowners to the agencies and helping to do
the restoration projects on the ground. It will be a real loss."
The Vancouver-based nonprofit Columbia Land Trust, which buys
environmentally sensitive land to protect it, does not work directly with
the Wetlands Reserve Program but does work with private landowners who
up for the program, said Glenn Lamb, the trust's executive director.
In the lower Columbia estuary, where the trust recently acquired 871
of critical salmon habitat and won state grants that will enable it to
nearly 800 acres more, "the Wetlands Reserve Program has been the most
valuable program that landowners have had available," Lamb said. "It
land that was originally part of the estuary, has since been diked and
drained, but is still at best marginal farmland because it is so wet.
Landowners can retain ownership but be compensated for protecting it for
The farmers he has worked with see the program as one way to head off
restrictions on the use of their property, Lamb said.
"When we met with farmers at the Grays River Grange, they said, 'Look, we
know that salmon need some help. We may or may not agree that it is
by too much logging, or dams, or hatcheries, or by our farms, but the
of the matter is that we all need to pitch in. If we don't all band
together, we are going to be hit by some stiff limitations on what we can
do with our land.' "
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