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Press Release

Save Illinois Wetlands & Ag Land With ACEP

wetland with ducks

Illinois NRCS is announcing IRA funding for ACEP with an application deadline of March 17, 2023.

NRCS in Illinois is now accepting additional applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE) and Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria in ACEP-IRA targeted areas and are received by March 17, 2023, will be considered for FY2023 funding.

Wetland Reserve Easements help landowners protect, restore, and enhance wetlands by funding conservation easements on priority land areas. IRA priority land areas include regions identified with soils high in organic carbon that will reduce, capture, avoid, or sequester carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide emissions. The program allows landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners to develop and protect wetlands through the purchase of these easements. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.

Agricultural Land Easements help landowners with the help of interested entities protect agricultural grassland from conversion. The IRA-ACEP-ALE priority area focuses on the Working Lands for Wildlife framework for the grasslands biome. The IRA prioritizes land that will result in the most climate-smart benefits to reduce, capture, avoid, or sequester carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrous oxide emissions associated with land eligible for the program. ACEP-ALE also provides landowners with a permanent easement so the agricultural land is permanently protected from conversion.

See the maps below to identify targeted areas here in Illinois. NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round and they’re processed  periodically throughout the year, as long as funding is available. Applications for ACEP-IRA are available through your local USDA Service Center or Conservation District and online.