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News Release

Apply for USDA Funding to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands and Wetlands

Bangor, April 6, 2015 – Last week Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is making available $332 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Conservation easements are an important tool to help landowners and partners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our nation's farmland, ranchland, wetlands and grasslands for future generations.

According to USDA-NRCS State Conservationist Juan Hernandez, nearly 200 acres were enrolled in this program in Maine in fiscal year 2014. “ACEP funds help Maine landowners protect farm resources vital for Maine communities,” Hernandez said.  “Over the past several years NRCS has helped protect thousands of acres of agriculture soils which will remain available for farming forever.  We hope to accomplish even more for Maine through ACEP in 2015.”

ACEP's agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, but they also support environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. State and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.

Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore degraded wetlands, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.

ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before May 15, 2015.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact Lance Gorham, USDA NRCS, at 207-990-9501, or email lance.gorham@me.usda.gov.

For more information on this program, please visit http://www.me.nrcs.usda.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).