NRCS Starts Sign-up for Ag Land and Wetland Conservation Easements
Applications for new Farm Bill program due June 6, 2014
LANSING, May 9, 2014 – The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program. The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, funds easements for agricultural lands and wetlands.
“Wetland and conservation easements help protect our natural resources and the viability of Michigan’s agricultural economy,” said NRCS State Conservationist Garry Lee.
The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. Landowners can submit applications directly to NRCS to enroll eligible land into wetland conservation easements. The highest ranked applications will be offered wetland easement contracts. Applications to enroll agricultural land must be submited to a local farmland preservation organization.
Approved agricultural easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Cropland, rangeland, hayland and pastureland are eligible.
Wetland reserve easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve 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 rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.
Applications must be submitted to NRCS by June 6, 2014. Applications are available at local USDA Service Centersand at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. Agreements will be evaluated starting in late August.
To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Centeror www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.