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Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems: Science, Technology, and Public Policy
with the characteristics stipulated in Chapter 8. Implementation of the program should include reliance on local and regional environmental restoration boards for program planning, synthesis, and leadership. Current appropriate federal programs should be reviewed to identify available opportunities for aquatic ecosystem restoration.
In light of existing budgetary constraints, innovative ways to finance restoration efforts are necessary. Thus, Congress should establish a National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Trust Fund. Private landowners and corporations should be given powerful federal and state incentives to restore their aquatic ecosystems. Every effort should be made to use federal and other governmental funding to encourage citizen participation in restoration. Citizen participation (either through private citizen groups or public interest groups) has been instrumental in initiating and continuing restoration activities. In addition, Congress should allow states and local governments to trade in federal water development construction, maintenance, and major repair funds to finance aquatic ecosystem restoration programs.
The Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101– 624) authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enter into long-term contracts with farmers to take former wetlands in agricultural use out of production and allow them to be restored as wetlands. However, the act limits the number of acres eligible for the program to 200,000 per year, with a maximum of 1 million acres. Each acre of cropland taken out of production and restored as wetland is no longer eligible for USDA program benefits. Thus, Congress should request that USDA investigate where and how an expansion of the Agricultural Wetland Reserve Program would result in a savings of USDA farm program expenditures; and saved funds could then be reallocated to expand the wetland reserve program beyond 1 million acres.
Any redirection of federal policies and programs for aquatic ecosystem restoration should take into consideration the following:
use of a landscape perspective in restoration efforts;
use of adaptive planning and management (this refers to analysis of alternative strategies, reviewing new scientific data, and reanalyzing management decisions);
evaluating and ranking restoration alternatives based on an assessment of opportunity cost rather than on traditional benefit-cost analysis;