Missouri landowners interested in participating in the Wetlands Reserve Program should apply by Feb. 22 to be eligible for the next round of funding, the Natural Resources Conservation Service announced.

WRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to restore, enhance, and protect wetlands on their properties. NRCS provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts.

By signing WRP easements, landowners receive cash payments in exchange for restoring or converting marginal agricultural land to shallow wetland areas. They also agree to maintain the areas protected by the WRP easements.

NRCS’ goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. WRP easement offers will represent the property’s appraised value, the easement rate cap for that region, or the landowner’s offer, whichever is lowest.

Missouri NRCS has increased WRP easement rate caps and updated its ranking form. The ranking form and the rate cap map for Missouri’s five WRP geographic regions are viewable via the Internet at: http://www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp/wrp_eligibility.html.

To sign up for WRP or to get more information about it and other NRCS programs, contact the NRCS office serving your county. Look in the phone book under “U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture,” or access http://offices.usda.gov.