WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $3.6 million in financial assistance for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota farmers and ranchers to help conserve wetlands and improve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, control flooding and strengthen rural economies, according to a press release.

The funding is available through the Water Bank Program (WBP), and NRCS will accept applications from now until April 18, the release reported.

"The Water Bank Program provides a unique opportunity to keep water on the land for the benefit of wildlife, such as waterfowl, while also contributing to flood control, water quality and rural economies," said NRCS Chief Jason Weller.

Through WBP, landowners receive annual payments through a 10-year rental agreement for conserving and protecting wetlands and adjacent lands that may otherwise be used for annual crop production or other activities that require drainage, continued the release, while the program also helps restore upland habitat for more than 300 species of migratory birds that rely on the Prairie Pothole region for breeding, nesting and resting.

"Through Water Bank, landowners receive assistance as they turn their perpetually flooded lands into great benefits to our wildlife populations," said Weller.

Read the full release here.