a total of over 223 separate federal, state, local, and private wetlands-related
programs applicable to Illinois. Only a handful of these programs are
regulatory. Most are non-regulatory and incentive-based. These non-regulatory
programs provide private landowners the opportunity to preserve or enhance
wetlands in ways not otherwise required by law. Participation in these
programs is one of the major actions an individual can take to help improve
the status of Illinois' wetland resources (Hubbell et al. 1995).
in non-regulatory programs can cause some of the most immediately-visible,
positive effects on wetland resources. These programs have very diverse
approaches to protecting wetlands. They sponsor a variety of wetland acquisition,
planning, education, restoration, and technical assistance activities.
The relative effectiveness of each practice as a wetlands protection and
improvement mechanism varies with each program (Illinois Department of
Natural Resources 1997).
there are a number of programs providing funding for wetland research
and educational activities, participation in some of these programs is
limited to landowners. Sometimes participation is limited to only those
landowners who already have viable wetlands on their property. A few of
the most popular federal and state non-regulatory programs that directly
interact with landowners and provide incentives or assistance for the
protection, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetlands on private property
are discussed in detail.
Reserve Program (WRP)
Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) The WRP was established in a 1990 amendment
to the NFSA. It is administered by the USDA/NRCS. The objective of the
program is to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands and their functions
on private property through conservation easements and agreements. (U.S.
Department of Agriculture 1997)
three ways landowners may participate in the WRP. They may enter into
permanent conservation easements, 30-year conservation easements, or restoration
agreements. Landowners participating in permanent easements receive a
100 percent federal cost-share for the agricultural value of the land
and the restoration costs. Landowners participating in 30-year easements
receive a 75 percent federal cost-share for the agricultural value of
the land and the restoration costs. Landowners participating in restoration
agreements receive a 75 percent federal cost-share for restoration costs.
Reforestation practices occurring under WRP may also be eligible for a
75 percent state cost-share under the Illinois Forestry Development Act
and the no-cost seedling program. The non-federal portion of all these
programs is the responsibility of the landowner (U.S. Department of Agriculture
five categories of lands eligible for enrollment in the WRP: agricultural
land with restorable wetlands; land adjacent to wetlands; wetlands restored
under federal or state programs; land coming out of enrollment in the
Conservation Reserve Program; and riparian areas. To be accepted into
the WRP, landowners are required to meet five conditions. They must grant
the USDA/NRCS a recordable easement on the eligible land; provide clear
title to the easement area; install restoration practices and manage them
according to a developed, agreed upon plan; provide the USDA/NRCS with
access to the easement area from a public road; and permanently retire
cropland acreage specified by the Farm Services Agency (U.S. Department
of Agriculture 1997).
determines eligibility for the WRP in consultation with the USF&WS and
IDNR. Acceptance into the program is competitive. Applications that most
cost-effectively protect the greatest acreage of valuable wetlands are
given the highest priorities (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1997).
land is enrolled in the program, the landowner retains the responsibilities
and rights of ownership. The land may be used for a variety of recreational
uses such as hunting or fishing. The landowner, however, is not
required to allow public access to the property (U.S. Department
of Agriculture 1997).
North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP)
The NAWMP was established in 1993 by an agreement between the Canadian,
Mexican, and United States governments. It is administered in the United
States by the USF&WS. The objective of the program is to maintain and
restore an adequate habitat base for the perpetuation of North American
waterfowl and other migratory species. The program has a long term goal
of enrolling throughout North America six million acres of habitat crucial
to waterfowl survival (Hubbell et al. 1995 and Illinois Department of
Natural Resources 1994).
provides funds for the acquisition, planning, restoration, creation, and
management of critical wetland habitats. Through joint ventures with non-profit
organizations, it encourages the use of regional plans for wetland conservation
which involve farmers and citizen advocacy groups. It also provides funding
for research on wetland restoration and contamination, wetland status
surveys, and wetland inventories (Hubbell et. al. 1995 and Illinois Department
of Natural Resources 1994).
determines the eligibility of participants and suitable projects. States,
private groups, and individuals may receive matching grants for wetland
conservation projects through the North American Wetland Conservation
Fund if they further the goals of the NAWMP. Non-profit organizations
participating in the NAWMP in Illinois may also receive funding from IDNR
through the Migratory Waterfowl Fund (Hubbell et. al. 1995 and Illinois
Department of Natural Resources 1994).
Partners for Wildlife was established in 1987 as a habitat restoration
program for private landowners. It is administered by the USF&WS. The
objective of the program is to increase the amount of habitat, including
wetlands, available for wildlife in the United States.
provides technical assistance and funding to landowners for the restoration,
creation, and management of wetlands and other habitats for wildlife.
Technical assistance is provided by the USF&WS. Funding for on-site construction
is provided by Partners for Wildlife and additional USF&WS funds. Additional
funding is provided in Illinois, through the Illinois Wildlife Preservation
Fund and IDNR's pheasant and migratory waterfowl funds. Landowners may
volunteer their lands for restoration efforts provided they maintain the
restored wetlands for at least 10 years. Eligibility is determined by
the USF&WS in cooperation with IDNR (Hubbell et al. 1995).
Farmland Assessment Act (FAA)
This act was passed in 1977 by the state of Illinois. It is administered
by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The objective of the program is
to offer property tax relief to landowners and farmers for pastures, forests,
open spaces (including wetlands), and other non-intensive uses of land.
The FAA requires the Department of Revenue consider wetlands as open lands
and assess them as such at "fair cash value" instead of as croplands.
To be eligible for tax relief, the area must be a minimum of 10 acres
in size and not in production during the year for which it is being assessed.
Lands enrolled in federal or other conservation programs are eligible
for tax relief under the FAA (Natural Resources Coordinating Council 1994).
Land Wildlife Habitat Program
This program was established and is administered by IDNR. The objective
is to protect, enhance, and develop wildlife habitat, including
wetlands, on private land for the purpose of improving wildlife
populations, soil and water conservation, and quality of life for
Illinois residents. The program assists landowners with plans, field
equipment, plant materials, and labor to develop, implement, and
maintain wildlife habitat management practices that require specialized
training, equipment, or resources which would otherwise be unavailable
to landowners. Eligible lands must be in private ownership and be
a minimum of one acre in rural areas, or one-quarter acre in urban
areas. The acceptance of projects is determined by IDNR (Natural
Resources Coordinating Council 1994).
In addition to these federal and state programs, some local communities
may have separate programs that encourage wetland proteciton.Local governments
may follow the example of the FAA and extend local property tax relief
to landowners who protect wetlands. They may also have acquisition program
that set aside wetlands as parks and open spaces or as sensitive habitat
areas. There may also be local regulatory and zoning ordinances regarding
wetlands as they relate to water quality or stormwater management (IL
Dept. of Natural Resources 1994).
A complete list of all of the wetland-related regulatory and non-regulatory
programs in Illinois can be found in a IDNR publication entitled, "Selected
Wetlands-Related Legislation and Programs Applicable to Illinois.
There is also a free document available through IDNR entitled, "A
Landowners Guide to Natural Resources Management Incentives". This
document contains brief overviews of most of the conservation programs
in Illinois, including those related to wetlands. If persons are interested
in learning more about wetlands conservation program, they should contact
either their local USDA/NRCS District Conservationist, USF&WS field staff,
IDNR District Biologist, or University of Illinois Extension Agent (Hubbell
et al. 1995 and Natural Resources Coordinating Council 1994).
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