Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) help private and tribal landowners protect, restore and enhance wetlands which have been previously degraded due to agricultural uses.
Application Cut-Off Date for IRA-WRE FY 24: November 13th 2023
Application Cut-Off Date for WRE FY24: December 1st 2023
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NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of a Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE). For acreage owned by an Indian tribe, there is an additional enrollment option of a 30-year contract.
For all Wetland Reserve Easements, 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.
Submitting an Application
Any interested landowner may submit an application for participation in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE). The State Conservationist has established a sign-up period to select the highest ranked applications for funding based on the NRCS ranking process, contract approval is dependent on program eligibility determinations. Applications are accepted continuously; however, applications must be received by December 1, 2023, to be considered for funding this batching period.
Land eligible for Wetland Reserve Easements includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. 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 restoration plan. This plan restores, protects, and enhances the wetland’s functions and values.
IRA-WRE Eligibility: The priority areas for North Carolina IRA ACEP-WRE highly organic soils that will optimize the soil carbon sequestration potential and prevent increase greenhouse gas emissions through the maintenance of existing non-cultivated areas, restoration of previously cultivated areas to perennial vegetative cover, and restoration of the natural hydrology to keep the soils saturated and anaerobic. Also, prior converted or degraded wetlands that will be restored to native forest.
The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee has developed ranking criteria to prioritize and subsequently fund applications addressing priority natural resource concerns in North Carolina. Information on a Ranking Worksheet is used in the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) to assess the site vulnerability, existing conditions, and identify potential resource concerns on a unit of land. After CART assessment, NRCS uses CART Ranking to evaluate an application in all applicable ranking pools. More information about the CART evaluation process can be viewed at the CART webpage.
WRE easement values in North Carolina are based on the fair market value determined by an appraisal.
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 100 percent of the restoration costs.
30-year Easements – 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays 75 percent of the restoration costs.
30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes. Program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements. Additionally, NRCS pays 75 percent of the restoration costs.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
4407 Bland Rd., Suite 117
Raleigh, NC 27609
ATTN: Bill Edwards
A pdf document portfolio contains the following forms, worksheets, etc.:
1. CPA-1200 Conservation Program Application
2. ACEP-WRE Enrollment Process
3. ACEP-WRE Land Eligibility
4. ACEP-WRE Ranking Worksheet
5. ACEP-WRE Wetland Restoration Criteria and Guidance
6. ACEP-WRE Warranty Easement Deed in Perpetuity
7. ACEP-WRE Areawide Market Analysis-Scope of Work
8. LTP-31 WRE Agreement to Purchase Conservation Easement
9. FSA-211 Power of Attorney
To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, landowners may establish eligibility at any time at a local USDA Service Center.
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.