NRCS starts signup for ag land, wetland conservation easements
Jaime Valentín, State Resource Conservationist
Applications for new Farm Bill program due June 6, 2014
San Juan, PR, May 1, 2014– USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Funding is available for the purchase of conservation easements on eligible agricultural lands and wetlands in the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands).
“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar. “We encourage territorial 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 agricultural lands and wetland reserves.
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, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland 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 Caribbean Area NRCS by June 6, 2014. Applications are available at your local USDA Service Center and at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. Agreements will be evaluated starting in late August.
The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs.
Learn more about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/farmbill.