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Restoration Program Generates Interest

Anew program is looking at righting old wrongs while putting some cash into landowners’ pockets. The new Wetland Restoration Incentive Program (WRIP) will help local landowners to restore drained wetlands while also compensating their efforts.

“For me it was a fit for pasture land,” said Gord Beddome, a Shilo-area cattle producer.

Beddome recently restored the wetlands on a slough-covered quarter section of hayland and pasture near Minnedosa. This restoration hasn’t had any negative impact economically, he said.

“I thought if I could restore the wetlands in a way that wasn’t going to hurt me economically then I would do it,” he said. “I am using it for hayland and pasture land. By the time you want to hay or by the time you are grazing it, the water would have soaked in and your hay will be just that much better.”

While the program is quite new it is already generating a lot of interest from landowners, according to Mike Thiele, a conservation specialist with Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC). “Several landowners have agreed to sign up and others are expressing interest as word of the new program spreads,” he said.

WRIP is a voluntary program that restores drained wetlands on private lands to enhance the storage of greenhouse gases and to provide other ecological goods and services such as improved water quality, flood protection and wildlife habitat. It is funded in part by the Province of Manitoba (Manitoba Water Stewardship) through the Budgeting for Outcomes Fund. Additional funding and program delivery are provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and MHHC.

In addition to storing water and carbon, restored wetlands provide benefits for the landowner and for wildlife, according to Curtis Hullick, field manager for MHHC. Cattle producers require clean water and plenty of grass for their cattle while waterfowl require water and grass for nesting habitat.

Some grain farmers are also seeing a benefit to restoring wetlands, according to Rick Andrews, DUC’s head of wetland restoration and habitat retention. Since drained wetlands still don’t produce well, this program is an opportunity to finally get paid for that land where they can’t reliably harvest a crop.

Only previously drained wetlands are eligible under this program. To ensure the restored wetland is permanently protected the landowner must enter into a Conservation Agreement (CA), through which the landowner is compensated for protecting the habitat.

The payment for CAs is based on the assessed value of the land with a premium paid for restored wetland acres. WRIP also offers an additional $200 per acre over and above the CA payment. The calculation of restored acres is based on the amount of land flooded when the wetland is restored as well as the adjacent wet meadow area.

For more information contact Mike Thiele by e-mail at: [email protected]or call him in Minnedosa at (204) 365-6334 or contact any MHHC office in Manitoba.

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