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Save Rhode Island’s Farmland, Forestland and Wetlands with USDA Conservation Easements

Conservation easement sign at Sowams Marsh WRE restoration site in Warren, RI, May 12, 2023.

NRCS in Rhode Island announces a third application sign up period for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) RI Forest Health Works.

ACEP helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands or protect farmland and ranchland through conservation easements. ACEP has two components:

  • Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) help private and tribal landowners, land trusts, and state and local governments to protect croplands and grasslands on working farms and ranches through conservation easements. Agricultural land easements can protect the long-term viability of Rhode Island’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive farmland to non-agricultural uses. Easements are crucial to protecting farmland from urban encroachment. Easements also can be used to protect floodplains, grasslands, and forests, providing public benefits like carbon sequestration, water quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and open space protection.
  • Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) help private and tribal landowners protect, restore and enhance wetlands that have been previously degraded by agricultural uses. Wetland easements enhance and protect habitat for wildlife, reduce flooding impacts, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands by purchasing easements, and eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.

The RI Forest Health Works RCPP aims to permanently protect over 1,300 acres of Rhode Island’s critical, privately owned forest lands to combat fragmentation and improve wildlife habitat. The project is accepting applications to protect forestland through entity-held easements, where landowners contract with land trusts or other entities to place a conservation easement.

NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round but sets specific ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding. These dates account for farmer needs, staff workload and ensure potential participants have ample opportunity to apply. Easement applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria in targeted areas that are received by May 17, 2024, will be considered for this third round of fiscal year 2024 funding. Applications received after this ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. Call your local NRCS Field Office or Conservation District Office (see listing below) for more information or download an application from

For more information, visit your local USDA Service Center.