Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

Land acquisition and protection. There are many other land acquisition options for producers and businesses, which often function to directly limit development pressures. Many states have some if not several land acquisition programs that expand existing state and wildlife management areas through land acquisitions. These programs can be narrowly focused on particular areas and habitats or can be more broadly focused, taking into consideration different parts of a landscape. • Programs like the USDA NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement program uses either 30-year or permanent easements to restrict development in critical wetland areas. Another example is the USFWS Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC), whose funds allow for the purchase, lease, or easement of valuable habitat for migratory birds. • Delaware’s Open Space Program, on the other hand, is not focused on particular habitat types but instead coordinates the acquisitions of various parts of the landscape by expanding state parks and preserves, fish and wildlife areas, state forests, and cultural resource sites. These management areas include some of the finest examples of Delaware’s diverse natural and cultural heritage. 4.5.1.2 Nutrient trading and household rebates serve water quality/quantity concerns Beyond programs aimed at regulating development and improving conservation, there are a large number of programs for producers that address issues related to water quality and quantity. Various programs use different strategies and incentives to creatively mitigate nonpoint-source pollution through things like mitigation banks and payment for ecosystem service schemes. Nutrient trading, for example, is a promising strategy for introducing cost-effectiveness and market-driven efficiency into the realization of reducing nutrient run-off from a number of industries, including agriculture. Under this approach, various industries are given the flexibility to meet their nutrient limits by purchasing credits or offsets by reducing nutrient run-off elsewhere. The success of such programs depends on a number of factors including the price of credit purchases versus alternative practices. • The Maryland Departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Department of the Environment (MDE) have been working collaboratively to establish one such voluntary, market-based program to promote the us e of trading as a viable option for achieving the state’s nutrient reduction goals. Maryland Nutrient Trading Program is a program that envisions trading not only between sectors (cross-sector trading) within Maryland, but ultimately between Maryland and the other Bay states (interstate trading). • The Vermont Pay-for-Phosphorus Program, through funding from the USDA NRCS RCPP AFA program, will build a novel pay-for-performance program in Vermont that will pay for phosphorus reductions beyond the requirements of the Lake Champlain Basin Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Other programs address water quality issues through efforts to control point-source pollution and reduce impervious surface covers. This is of particular importance in urban areas, where runoff and stormwater can cause significant economic and ecological damage. • The USDA FSA Source Water Protection Program (SWPP) encourages producers in participating states to use conservation practices and become a member of the local team responsible for developing the SWPP. Through this program, areas where pollution prevention is most needed are identified, after which technicians work with state rural water associations to create teams made up of local citizens and individuals from federal, state, local, and private organizations, who collaborate to create a Rural Source Water Protection plan to promote clean source water. • EPA’s Urban Waters Partnership, which has six locations in the U.S. Northeast, directs the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (Figure 13). The partnership reconnects urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve water systems and promote economic, environmental, and social benefits.

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