NRCS Starts Signup for Agricultural Land and Wetland Conservation Easements
Brenda Ling, public affairs specialist
Applications for New Farm Bill Programs Due June 6
Casper, Wyo. – (May 5, 2014) — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Funding is now available for the purchase of conservation easements on eligible agricultural lands and wetlands in Wyoming. Applications must be submitted to Wyoming NRCS by June 6, in order to be considered for this year’s funding.
“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Wyoming State Conservationist Astrid Martinez. “We encourage state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, Indian tribes, 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. ACEP has two components, one for agricultural land easements (ALE) and one for wetland reserve easements (WRE).
Under the agricultural land component, funds are provided to eligible entities that can use ACEP funding to purchase agricultural land easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. Approved agricultural 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.
Under the wetland reserve component, funding is provided directly to landowners for the purchase of an easement and for restoration. Wetland reserve easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Restoration funds are used to restore and enhance wetlands, to improve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, improve water quality, reduce flood damage, and encourage outdoor education and recreation. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.
NRCS is currently accepting applications for both components of ACEP, applications must be submitted to Wyoming NRCS by June 6, 2014. Applications are available at local USDA Service Centers and on the Wyoming NRCS Website at www.wy.nrcs.usda.gov. Eligible applications will be evaluated starting in mid-July. Offers to enroll in ACEP will be sent to ranked and selected applicants in early 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.
To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
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