An application to make the Baker University Wetlands south of Lawrence part of a federal wetlands preservation program was mailed last week from the Lawrence office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Leroy Ahlers, a deputy state conservationist with the service, said the application likely will be approved, even though it could take months or more than a year to process.
The program is well-funded and not flooded with applicants, he said.
"Most of them are approved unless they are way off in left field," Ahlers said.
If approval is granted, the federal government would pay the owner of the wetlands the agricultural value of the land to put it into a permanent conservation easement.
Clyde Mermis, a district conservationist with the Lawrence office, estimated the 573-acre wetlands' value at $800 to $900 an acre, meaning it could bring more than $500,000.
Though the easement requires the owner to maintain the property as wetlands, the money comes with no other strings, Mermis said.
"It's their money to do with whatever," he said.
Baker President Lambert said that if Baker still owns the land when the easement is granted, the money would be used to manage the property.
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