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Wetlands in New Mexico

Agricultural Land Easement Program - New Mexico


Agricultural Land Easements help private and tribal landowners, land trusts, and other entities such as state and local governments protect croplands and grasslands on working farms and ranches by limiting non-agricultural uses of the land through conservation easements.

Agricultural land easements help private and tribal landowners, land trusts, and other entities such as state and local governments protect croplands and grasslands on working farms and ranches by limiting non-agricultural uses of the land through conservation easements. NRCS accepts applications year-round from eligible easement entities. Applications from eligible easement entities received by November 3, 2023, will be considered for New Mexico ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) funding. Applications received by November 13, 2023 will be considered for the first round of Inflation Reduction Act funding. NRCS will announce other opportunities for agreements and partnerships at the state level for fiscal year 2024 in the coming months. The Inflation Reduction Act provides funding to support those strategic partnerships with local, regional and national organizations. This will include outreach to underserved producers to ensure Inflation Reduction Act climate funding is reaching those who have been previously unable to access conservation assistance.

NRCS is expanding the national priority areas eligible for Inflation Reduction Act funding for Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) easements in fiscal year 2024. For ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), NRCS is prioritizing securing:

  • Grasslands in areas of highest risk for conversion to non-grassland uses to prevent the release of soil carbon stores.
  • Agricultural lands under threat of conversion to non-agricultural uses.
  • State-specific priorities including rice cultivation on subsiding highly organic soils.



What are the benefits?

ALE funding and the required conservation easement deed help farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. Landowners maintain control over who can access the land and have peace of mind knowing the land will never be developed. Easements can make land more affordable for future farmers by removing development potential.  Farmland, grasslands, wetlands and open space promote human health and happiness and provide environmental benefits such as groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat and clean air.

Who is eligible?

Applications are received from entities that have the authority to purchase and hold conservation easements and have an established agricultural land protection program. Entities include American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations.

Eligible landowners include individuals, corporations, trusts and Indian tribes.

Please review the fact sheets below for more information on ALE entity and landowner eligibility requirements.

What land is eligible?

Land eligible for agricultural easements includes private or Tribal land that is cropland, rangeland, grassland, and pastureland. Shrubland is eligible if grazing is the predominant use. Forest land is eligible on no more than two-thirds of the easement area and must contribute to the economic viability of the agricultural operation or serve as a buffer to protect the easement land from development.  

Please review the fact sheets below for more information on land requirements.

Ranking Information

Eligible parcels are selected based on a ranking process that includes an assessment of the ecological condition of the land. The ranking process is how NRCS determines the conservation value and cost-effectiveness of the proposed action on the selected land units. If adequate funds are not available to fund the next highest ranked parcel, the State may select the next highest ranked parcel for which sufficient funding is available.

Applications for grasslands of special significance (GSS) are ranked in a separate ranking pool from other ALE applications. Applications are ranked using the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART).

New Mexico Contacts

Kenneth Branch
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(505) 761-4454

Athena Cholas
Resource Conservationist
(505) 761-4419

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

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.

how to get started

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 number.

If you don’t have a farm 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 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. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

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.