Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that more than 830,000 acres of wetlands have been restored, created, protected and improved through the cooperative conservation efforts of federal and state governments, private landowners and nongovernmental organizations since President Bush announced his Wetlands Initiative on Earth Day one year ago.



Johanns made the announcement during an Earth Day celebration with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, with Congressman Gil Gutknecht also in attendance. Johanns and Pawlenty also signed the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Minnesota II agreement, which will help improve water quality and wildlife habitat on 120,000 acres in three watersheds of the State. These 15-year CREP contracts, supplemented with longer-term state easements, will provide benefits of $250 million, with USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) contributing $200 million and the State of Minnesota funding $50 million. The CREP agreement is a partnership with USDA, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Watershed Districts and other partners.



USDA has made significant progress in the past 12 months as 371,826 acres of wetlands have been restored, enhanced or protected through USDA voluntary conservation programs. A detailed report on the President's Wetlands Initiative can be found at www.coastalamerica.gov.



Source: Government Release