Date of this Version
Since its initial authorization in 1990, more than 1.6 million acres of primarily drained or degraded wetlands on agricultural lands have been enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its partners are working with landowners to restore these lands to ecologically productive wetland and upland buffer habitats. Numerous studies have documented the value of restored and created wetlands to fish and wildlife resources. However, few objective studies have been completed that document fish and wildlife response to wetlands enrolled in and restored through WRP. Preliminary results of some studies underway indicate that wildlife use of WRP sites is comparable to or exceeds that of non-program restored wetland habitats. In addition, anecdotal reports on some WRP restored wetland complexes indicate that wildlife response has been greater than expected. Additional studies are needed to enable WRP program managers and participants to better understand how lands enrolled in the program affect local fish and wildlife use and the landscape factors that affect wildlife community dynamics and population trends influenced by the lands enrolled. Elements of USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project are intended to begin addressing this need.