The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has enrolled 3,500 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program via a reverse auction program, NRCS Chief Arlen Lancaster announced Thursday.
"The WRP reverse auction is an innovative, market-based approach. These results show we can increase the nation's wetlands through expanded public-private efforts and at less cost," said
The reverse auction, currently a pilot program, saved nearly $820,000 in the 2006 fiscal year by reducing easement acquisition costs by 14%. WRP is a voluntary enrollment program designed to restore and enhance wetland ecosystems.
Landowners interested in enrolling acres in WRP conducted environmental self-assessments and submitted sealed bids. NRCS prioritized applications according to an environmental benefits index, dividing landowner bid by environmental self-assessment scores.
After the ranking process, NRCS notified applicants of their rank and provided an opportunity for them to submit a lower bid which would then be used to develop final funding selections.
The reverse auction pilot program took place in selected counties in