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Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Wetland Reserve Easement - California


Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) help private and tribal landowners protect, restore and enhance wetlands which have been previously degraded due to agricultural uses.


The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands or protect working farms and ranches through conservation easements.

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program provides habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wetland dependent fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; improves water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals; reduces flooding; recharges groundwater; protects biological diversity; provides resilience to climate change; and provides opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.



IRA WRE (Batch 1) Batching Deadline: Nov. 13, 2023

While applications for IRA-WRE are taken on a continuous basis, the deadline to be considered for Fiscal Year 2024 funding is November 13, 2023. Applications received after the batching deadline will be considered for funding on the next batching date.  Each applicant must establish themselves as a USDA customer and obtain all Farm Service Agency (FSA) eligibility requirements by Dec. 13, 2023 for WRE.  

General WRE (Batch 2) Batching Deadline: Dec. 15, 2023

While applications for ACEP-WRE are taken on a continuous basis, the deadline to be considered for Fiscal Year 2024 funding is December 15, 2023. Applications received after the batching deadline will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2025. Each applicant must establish themselves as a USDA customer and obtain all Farm Service Agency (FSA) eligibility requirements by Feb 9, 2024 for WRE.  



Eligible landowners include:

  • Owners of privately held land including land that is held by American Indian tribes.
  • All landowners who meet the adjusted gross income (AGI) limitations, including all members of landowner-legal entities, and those compliant with the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.

What land is eligible?

Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes privately held farmed or converted wetlands that were previously degraded due to agricultural uses and can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential to restore hydrology and provide habitat for migratory birds and other fish and wildlife.

How does it work?

To enroll land through Wetland Reserve Easements, 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 Plan of Operations (WRPO). This plan will detail conservation practices to help restore, protect, and enhance wetland functions and values.


Wetland Reserve Easement Enrollment Options

  • Perpetual Easement is a conservation easement in perpetuity. NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
  • 30-year Easement is an easement that expires after 30 years. NRCS pays up to 75 percent of the easement value and up to 75 percent of the restoration costs. Landowners are responsible for 25 percent of the restoration costs and should be made aware of this financial commitment at the time of application.
  • 30-year Contract for Acreage owned by an Indian Tribe. Tribal lands are eligible for 30-year contracts that offer the same compensation rates as a 30-year easement.
  • Reservation of Grazing Rights Option applies to a Perpetual Easement or a 30-year Easement. This option provides landowners the opportunity to continue to graze the property for the benefit of wetlands and wildlife in accordance with an NRCS approved grazing plan. Only specific wetland types and regions of the state are eligible. The easement pays 25 percent less than the perpetual easement or 30-year options identified above. Restoration costs are similar to the above options and can include certain pre-approved conservation practices to implement the grazing plan.

For all Wetland Reserve Easements options, NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees and title insurance.


Easement Value

Easement values for WRE are based on the lowest value of an appraisal, a Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC), or a landowner offer.



WRE Program Contacts


Dean Kwasny
Easement Programs Manager
Davis State Office, California
Phone: (530) 792-5648

Nate Key
WRE Team Leader, Northern California
Yuba City Field Office
Phone: (530) 216-5856

Karl Kraft
WRE Team Leader, Southern California
Modesto Field Office
Phone: (209) 287-3637

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.