New wetland easement pay rates were released for 2023.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Illinois announced new easement values used with the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). The Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) portion of ACEP helps private landowners restore and protect critical wetlands. New Illinois Geographic Area Rate Caps for 2023 are now in place and they are slightly higher than previous rates. Sign-ups for WRE can be submitted and accepted at any time.
“We’re announcing the new rates for ACEP-WRE,” says Paula Hingson, Assistant State Conservationist for Easements. “GARC rates and land values are established based on an Areawide Market Analysis. Land values rose slightly in Illinois so we will use these new rates to estimate easement values for ACEP applicants in fiscal year 2023.”
For more than three decades, NRCS has worked with landowners in Illinois to protect their wetlands. Conservation easements are important tools landowners can use to improve soil health, water and air quality and enhance wildlife habitat for migrating waterfowl.
The first application cut-off for 2023 occurred in December of 2022, but NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round. Individuals interested in ACEP-WRE should talk to staff at their local NRCS office.
Through ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS helps landowners restore, enhance, and protect wetland ecosystems. NRCS and landowners work together to develop a plan for restoration work and long-term maintenance of the easement. With 75% of Illinois lands being in private ownership, this program is ideal for landowners who fight annual flooding or those interested in promoting wetland wildlife habitat.
Wetland conservation easements are permanent, or they can be established for 30 years. Eligible lands include:
• Farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored;
• Croplands or grasslands subject to flooding; and
• Riparian areas that link protected wetland areas.
NRCS will use new 2023 Geographic Area Rate Caps for new Wetland Reserve Easement contracts. Rates vary by location across the state to distinguish cropland from non-cropland. Rates range from $3,150 to $7,560 per acre. See the attached map to determine rates by Illinois county.