On a sunny day last week in West Palm Beach, Fla., Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced $100 million in financial assistance to boost wetlands restoration in the Northern Everglades watershed. With the announcement, USDA aims to purchase the development rights on as much as 24,000 acres of private land in four Florida counties, and restore the land in cooperation with the owners. The end result: less surface water leaving the land, slower water runoff, and reduced concentrations of nutrients entering the public water system. That’s better water quality, greater quantity, and improved economic opportunities for millions of Floridians. Secretary Vilsack spoke about how private landowners play a critical role in protecting wetlands and enhancing wildlife in this unique habitat. The partnership with farmers and ranchers will also empower community-led conservation efforts and use of science-based management practices to restore and protect lands and waters for future generations.
The funding supports the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting private lands through its America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Working with conservation partners and others, USDA helps communities find local solutions to natural resource issues such as protecting a large-scale ecosystem like the Northern Everglades.
To watch the ceremony, held at Winding Waters Natural Area, check out the video below!
Amy Plavak of Hillsboro, Oregon, used to lead multi-million dollar projects as a certified professional project manager. Now she is one of 36,000 Earth Team volunteers working to improve the environment and restore wetlands which can clean water, reduce flooding and provide wildlife habitat.
Plavak joined the Earth Team and learned about wetlands, the NRCS Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and worked with NRCS conservationists on soil-saving and water-enhancing projects. She eventually became responsible for updating the wetlands restoration specifications for six WRP projects totaling over 1,000 acres and preparing a detailed agreement and construction bid package for a 350-acre WRP project. Plavak’s volunteer work is credited with saving the government money and allowing the WRP project to be completed on time.
Michele Eginoire, national Earth Team volunteer coordinator, says all Earth Team volunteers make a difference. “We try to tailor our volunteer jobs to our volunteers’ likes and abilities. Their work can include field work, administrative support and conservation education. Our volunteers are a diverse group 14 years and older who support NRCS conservation efforts,” said Eginoire. “Every Earth Team volunteer makes a contribution and every volunteer has the potential to improve the land as much as Amy Plavak.”
NRCS has over 3,000 offices nationwide. To learn more about being an Earth Team volunteer in your area, call 1-888-LANDCARE.
Earth Team Volunteer Amy Plavak is credited with improving the environment and
saving the government money near her Oregon home.