The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), working with the Mississippi River Trust and Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) program, is offering reforestation incentives to private landowners in the largest U.S. river’s floodplain or batture.
Restoring Lower Mississippi River Bottomland Hardwood Forests
Reforestation of these batture lands will lessen the amount of excess nutrients entering the river and the Gulf of Mexico; reduce flooding of farmland; save taxpayer dollars in the form of avoided commodity, disaster assistance, and crop insurance payments; increase carbon sequestration; expand habitat for black bears, migratory birds, white-tailed deer, and other wildlife; help protect levees and navigation infrastructure; and increase opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Acres in WRE Easements Closed
Acres in WRE Easements Pending
Total Acres in WRE Easements
Since the project began in 2012, NRCS and its partners have closed Wetland Reserve Easements on 24,828 acres in the project area, with another 5,852 acres pending closure, for a total of 36,080 acres. All land with closed easements is being replanted with bottomland hardwood seedlings.
The project focuses on securing Wetland Reserve Easements on cleared or open land that floods frequently in six states along the Lower Mississippi River.
The project area is known as the “batture,” It is the active floodplain of the Lower Mississippi River from the river’s confluence with the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois (River Mile 954) downstream to the Port of Baton Rouge (River Mile 255). Most of the batture can flood for weeks or months every year, often during the growing season.
The active floodplain in this 699-mile reach covers 2 million acres of land and water between the federal mainline levees or river bluffs. The project area includes portions of 35 counties and parishes bordering the Mississippi River in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
The Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee is a nonprofit coalition of 12 natural resource conservation and environmental quality agencies representing the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The organization provides the only permanent regional forum dedicated to conserving the natural resources within the lower river’s active floodplain.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides technical assistance, financial incentives, and conservation planning for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners wanting to make conservation improvements to their land.