While wetlands are some of Florida’s treasures, over the years we’ve seen an acreage decrease of nearly half. According to a U.S Fish and Wildlife Service report, over 20 million wetland acres have been lost since settlers began draining and diking them back in the 19th century. And of course now, population growth continues to threaten what remains.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida wants to remind landowners across the state how those wetlands work hard for us, cleaning pollutants out of our water, storing it and controlling flooding. Coastal tidal salt marshes, mangrove swamps, inland southern swamps, freshwater marshes and riparian wetlands provide habitat for a vast array of rare plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.
And through NRCS, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps preserve and restore this precious resource. A landowner can sell a conservation easement to limit land uses, restore wetlands, protect wildlife habitat and prevent property development. Agricultural producers also conserve and protect water quality, reduce soil erosion and create wildlife habitat with financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
To learn more about ACEP, contact your local USDA Service Center. To see some stories of landowners that have already taken part in this program, click here.