The Natural Resources Conservation Service and Ducks Unlimited signed a $1.5 million cooperative agreement recently to coordinate and deliver the Wetlands Reserve Program in Iowa.

WRP is a voluntary incentive-based program that provides financial and technical assistance to landowners to restore wetlands and associated uplands on their property.

This agreement extends through 2013 and includes planned restoration activities on more than 6,500 acres of private lands throughout the Prairie Pothole and Missouri River Valley Regions of Iowa.

“Ducks Unlimited’s staff and expertise will help us complete WRP restorations in these areas of the state,” Richard Sims, NRCS state conservationist said. “Theyre a natural partner since were both firmly committed to working closely with private landowners and agency partners to restore high-quality wetlands.”

Wetlands protected and restored under WRP provide significant benefits not only to wildlife, but also the citizens of Iowa. Major flooding has plagued many Iowa communities for several years. Wetlands help reduce downstream flooding by acting like a sponge that absorbs water and slows runoff. Wetlands also improve water quality by recharging ground water and drinking water supplies.

“Were very excited about this new conservation partnership with NRCS and private landowners in Iowa,” Eric Lindstrom, DU regional biologist, said. “WRP provides tremendous ecological, environmental and societal benefits for Iowans, while bolstering local economic growth and creating private sector jobs through construction activities.”