USDA gives Arkansas $14.7 million to restore forests on flood-prone farmland

The state of Arkansas will get $14.7 million this coming federal fiscal year to fund the reforestation of part of the farming-heavy Delta where the land is too prone to flooding to plant crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.

Arkansas’ project was among 10 projects in 12 states approved for the 2016 Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership Project for a total of $44.6 million, according to a USDA news release. The program’s aim is to protect, restore or enhance 15,000 acres of wetlands in critical watersheds. The program was authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The restoration project is voluntary, but for years dozens of landowners have applied for limited funds in similar projects in the Lower White River and Lower Cache River watersheds, Milks said. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a body of water.

About 486,000 acres of land in Monroe, Prairie and Woodruff counties near the Cache River would be eligible for the project, Milks said.

The funds will be made available to landowners to apply for them from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Landowners would sell their land to the federal government as an easement, allowing the government and its partners to complete the reforestation projects. The funds will be available for three years.

Photo of Arkansas road eroded by flood courtesy

See full July 2016 article.

See updated August 5, 2016 article on funding.

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