Signup open for USDA Wetlands Reserve Program
The program offers landowners financial benefits for restoring and protecting their wetlands, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said. In turn, the landowner agrees to allow the USDA the right of access, management and monitoring in the easement area.
It offers landowners financial benefits for restoring and protecting their wetlands. In turn, the landowner agrees to allow Natural Resources Conservation Service the right of access, management and monitoring in the easement area.
Landowners considering enrolling property in Wetlands Reserve Program, a USDA news release stated, should consider these factors:
—The federal government is buying most of the land rights to the easement area in order to maximize the functions and values of the wetlands.
—NRCS has the authority to undertake, at its own expense or on a financial assistance basis with the landowner, any activity to restore, manage and monitor the easement area, including marking the boundary.
—NRCS may enhance the easement area in order to improve the wetland and other wildlife habitat (with the exception that it does not adversely affect a neighboring landowner or any non-easement lands).
Under the program, the landowner retains six basic rights:
—The right to sell the property.
—The right to private access (no public access unless navigable water is involved and a direct connection exists).
—The right of recreational use including hunting, fishing, trapping and other quiet recreational uses (commercial game farms are not allowed).
—The right to quiet enjoyment.
—Oil, gas, mineral rights, provided any activity is located outside the boundaries of the easement area unless activity within the easement area specified does not adversely impact the functions and values of the wetland.
—Water uses and water rights, as applicable.
Permanent structures, of any kind, are not allowed on the easement area. This includes things such as sheds, camps, trailers, boat houses, boat ramps and high fences. Certain existing structures must be removed prior to the recording of the easement.
The landowner remains responsible for paying any and all real property and other taxes.
More information about WRP can be found at the local USDA Service Center in the St. Mary Parish Courthouse, or at www.la.nrcs.usda.gov.