NRCS offers easement programs to landowners who want to maintain or enhance their land in a way beneficial to agriculture and/or the environment.
Alaska ACEP application deadline: November 30, 2023.
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The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve working agricultural lands and restore wetlands impacted by agricultural production. ACEP encourages private owners to maintain land for farming and ranching and to protect critical wetland resources for wildlife habitat and water quality. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.
The program offers two types of easements:
- Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) 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.
- Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, and protect biological diversity by restoring wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production.
Applications may be submitted at any time throughout the year. NRCS establishes application deadlines each fiscal year to evaluate easment applications that will be considered for funding in that fiscal year. Any applications received past the deadline will still be considered the following fiscal year.
November 30, 2022 - Application Deadline for ACEP Agricultural Land Easements and ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements
Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)
NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) 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.
Land eligible for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland, and limited acreage of 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.
To enroll working agricultural lands, NRCS enters into cooperative agreements with eligible partners. Each easement is required to have an agricultural land easement plan that promotes the long-term viability of the land.
How do I find an eligible partner to hold my Agricultural Land Easement?
Visit the following websites to learn how to find an eligible partner to hold conservation easements.
How to Apply
To enroll land through Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) , landowners establish farm or ranch records and USDA program eligibility with USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), and then apply to eligible entities, such as land trusts. Eligible entities select the priority parcels, commit matching funds, and submit a complete application packet to the NRCS State Office including the entity application (CPA-41) and the landowner parcel sheet (CPA-41A), along with requisite attachments. Multiple parcels for different landowners may be submitted under one entity application packet. Entity eligibility, entity matching funds, and landowner eligibility must be documented at the time of application submission.
AK ACEP-ALE Entity application (1.41 MB)
AK ACEP-ALE Ranking Sheet (177.77 KB)
More Information about ACEP-ALE
The Farmland Information Center, in partnership with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, created the ACEP-ALE Toolkit, a comprehensive collection of resources and tools to help you navigate the process of participating in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE).
- ACEP-ALE Toolkit website from American Farmland Trust
- ACEP-ALE for Entities website from American Farmland Trust
Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE)
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production through the purchase of a Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE).
AK How Wetland Easements Work (6.83 MB)
Through the wetland reserve enrollment options, NRCS may enroll eligible land through:
- Permanent Easements – Permanent Easements are conservation easements in perpetuity. NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 75 to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
- 30-year Easements – 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
- Term Easements - Term easements are easements that are for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State laws. NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the term easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
- 30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes, and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements.
NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including survey costs, appraisal fees, title insurance, and closing costs.
Land eligible for Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) includes wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based on the feasibility of restoration and the easement's potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
To enroll wetlands, 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 serves as the basis for appropriate and feasible practices to restore, protect, and enhance the wetland’s functions and values.
How to Apply
Landowners may apply at any time at the local USDA Service Center. Landowner eligibility must be documented at the time of application submission.
AK Application for ACEP WRE (113.59 KB)
AK ACEP-WRE Ranking (207.01 KB)
Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership
The Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership as an enrollment option under ACEP - WRE. WREP continues to be a voluntary program through which NRCS signs agreements with eligible partners to leverage resources to carry out high-priority wetland protection, restoration and enhancement projects.
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.