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Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits.. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

What's New in ACEP?

ACEP is a new program that consolidates three former programs – the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.


Agricultural Land Easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

Agricultural Land Easements

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.

Under the Agricultural Land component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

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Wetland Reserve Easements

NRCS also provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement. For acreage owned by an Indian tribe, there is an additional enrollment option of a 30-year contract.

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Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use.

Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners or Indian tribes that include the right for NRCS to develop and implement a wetland reserve restoration easement plan. This plan restores, protects, and enhances the wetland’s functions and values.

How to Apply FY 2016 Application Date: January 15, 2016

To enroll land through agricultural land easements (ACEP ALE), eligible partners may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire conservation easements on eligible land. Applications should be submitted to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 6200 Jefferson Street NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87112 ATTN: Seth Fiedler, Resource Conservationist.

To enroll land through wetland reserve easement component (ACEP WRE), landowners should complete a CCC-1200 and apply at any time at their local USDA Service Center.

FY16 ACEP - ALE Application Documents and Forms

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat

  • FY16 ACEP Application Guide (PDF; 84 KB)
  • NRCS-CPA 41 Entity Application (PDF; 173 KB)
  • NRCS-CPA-41A Parcel Application (PDF; 136 KB)
  • Other required land and land owner eligibility forms are the land owner’s responsibility and must be up to date at the time of application for the offered acres / landowners and processed by the USDA Farm Services Agency, including the CCC-941 (to confirm income eligibility), the AD-1026 to confirm wetlands and highly erodible land eligibility, and the CCC-901 (to confirm entity landowner business structure, membership and member shares).

If you have questions about either program component or the applications processes, you can contact your local field office or the NRCS New Mexico state office:

Kristin Graham Chavez
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(505) 761-4404 voice