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Minnesota: $26 Million Available to Retire Flood-damaged Cropland

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Minnesota, cleaning up disastrous storm damage wreaked last September, has announced $26 million in funding to “retire marginal or damaged cropland” in southern parts of the state that is “frequently or occasionally flooded.”

The grants are courtesy of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the RIM-WRP partnership, a local-state-federal partnership that combines the state’s Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve conservation easement program with the USDA Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), the state said in a Jan. 11 statement.

The RIM-WRP lands will be given the highest priority, the state said. They are part of a plan to restore 7,504 acres of wetlands and grasslands, announced last summer.

Most of the money will be spent in floodplain areas in the 29 counties that were declared disaster areas by FEMA in October 2010 in the wake of record rainfall on Sept. 22 and 23, the state said. The funding includes $10 million in state money that the state legislature appropriated for flood relief in a special session, and $16 million in federal funds.

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“These dollars will be used to acquire permanent conservation easements from willing landowners to restore and protect floodplain areas,” said Don Baloun, Minnesota NRCS State Conservationist, in the state’s announcement. He added that interested landowners wishing relief should contact their SWCD or USDA Service Center.

Landowners in the following counties are eligible to participate: Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Jackson, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pipestone, Redwood, Rice, Rock, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, Winona and Yellow Medicine.

“The primary goal of these state and federal dollars is to provide additional flood relief and protection on privately owned lands adjacent to water bodies,” said John Jaschke, BWSR executive director, in the statement. “But the restored floodplains and grasslands will also provide multiple benefits for wildlife habitat and water quality.”