United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 29, 2023
The Secretary shall establish evaluation and ranking criteria for offers from landowners under this section to maximize the benefit of Federal investment under the program.
The Secretary shall give priority to acquiring wetland reserve easements based on the value of the wetland reserve easement for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife or improving water quality.
On the violation of a term or condition of a wetland reserve easement, the wetland reserve easement shall remain in force and the Secretary may require the owner to refund all or part of any payments received by the owner under the program, with interest on the payments as determined appropriate by the Secretary.
Land subject to a wetland reserve easement may be used for compatible economic uses, including such activities as hunting and fishing, managed timber harvest, water management, or periodic haying or grazing, if such use is specifically permitted by the wetland reserve easement plan developed for the land under subsection (f) and is consistent with the long-term protection and enhancement of the wetland resources for which the easement was established.
Compensation for a 30-year contract or 30-year wetland reserve easement shall be not less than 50 percent, but not more than 75 percent, of the compensation that would be paid for a permanent wetland reserve easement.
Compensation for a wetland reserve easement shall be provided by the Secretary in the form of a cash payment, in an amount determined under subparagraph (A).
For wetland reserve easements valued at $500,000 or less, the Secretary may provide payments in not more than 10 annual payments.
For wetland reserve easements valued at more than $500,000, the Secretary may provide payments in at least 5, but not more than 10 annual payments, except that, if the Secretary determines it would further the purposes of the program, the Secretary may make a lump-sum payment for such an easement.
The Secretary shall provide financial assistance to owners of eligible land to carry out the establishment of conservation measures and practices and protect wetland functions and values, including necessary maintenance activities, as set forth in a wetland reserve easement plan developed for the eligible land under subsection (f).
The Secretary shall assist owners in complying with the terms and conditions of a wetland reserve easement.
The Secretary may enter into 1 or more contracts with private entities or agreements with a State, nongovernmental organization, or Indian tribe to carry out necessary restoration, enhancement, or maintenance of a wetland reserve easement if the Secretary determines that the contract or agreement will advance the purposes of the program.
The Secretary may enter into 1 or more agreements with a State (including a political subdivision or agency of a State), nongovernmental organization, or Indian tribe to carry out a special wetland reserve enhancement option that the Secretary determines would advance the purposes of program.
A wetland reserve easement plan under subparagraph (A) shall include practices and activities, including repair or replacement, that are necessary to restore and maintain the enrolled land and the functions and values of the wetland subject to a wetland reserve easement.
The Secretary may delegate any of the management, monitoring, and enforcement responsibilities of the Secretary under this section to other Federal or State agencies that have the appropriate authority, expertise, and resources necessary to carry out such delegated responsibilities, or to conservation organizations if the Secretary determines the organization has similar expertise and resources.
The Secretary shall not delegate any of the monitoring or enforcement responsibilities under this section to conservation organizations.
If an owner who is entitled to a payment under this section dies, becomes incompetent, is otherwise unable to receive such payment, or is succeeded by another person or entity who renders or completes the required performance, the Secretary shall make such payment, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary and without regard to any other provision of law, in such manner as the Secretary determines is fair and reasonable in light of all of the circumstances.
The relevant provisions of this section shall also apply to a 30-year contract.