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USDA: Wetlands increase at 131,400 acres

Kane, PA, Apr. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. farmers and ranchers have produced a net gain of more than 130,000 acres of wetlands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Thursday.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, in ceremonies associated with Earth Day, said most of the increases occurred in the Corn Belt and delta states where people have been participating with the Wetlands Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

"We must build on America's conservation ethic through partnership opportunities with states ... local communities and individuals. Farmers and ranchers are among the best stewards of the land and working together we are seeing real results," Veneman said.

A USDA release stated that while 182,600 acres were returned to wetlands, some 51,200 acres were lost last year, leaving a net wetlands gain of 131,400 acres.

Wetlands cover about 111 million acres in the lower 48 states, according to the National Resources Inventory. Wetlands protect water quality but acting as natural filters to remove pollutants and also serve as natural flood controls and help ease erosion.


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