NRCS starts sign-up for ag land, wetland easements
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program.
The ACEP combines NRCS’s former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Programs.
“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Montana State Conservationist Joyce Swartzendruber. “We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”
The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, funds easements for working agricultural lands and wetland reserves. ACEP is comprised of two components: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
ALE easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food and fiber production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
WRE easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve wildlife habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. Applications are currently being accepted for wetlands reserve easements and will be ranked according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.
To be considered for funding in the 2014 fiscal year, applications must be submitted to NRCS by June 6, 2014. However NRCS accepts applications for all easement programs on a continuous basis. Applications are available at local USDA Service Centers and at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
–Natural Resources Conservation Service