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News Release

Mass. farmland owners in Lower Merrimack Watershed invited to apply for federal farmland protection program

Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371, cell 413-835-1276

Lower Merrimack Watershed

AMHERST, Mass., June 22, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Essex County Greenbelt have announced that farmland owners in the Lower Merrimack Watershed in northeastern Massachusetts are eligible for funding to permanently protect their land through the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Agricultural Land Easements (ALE). Applications are due by July 31, 2020.

Made available through the "Saving Farmland in the Lower Merrimack Watershed" project, the funding will protect vulnerable farmland from the threat of development. The project is funded in part through NRCS’ Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand the agency’s ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns.

Applications will be ranked according to their contribution to the RCPP goals of improving water quality, soil quality, and wildlife habitat.

For help determining if a project is eligible for funding, potential applicants in the Lower Merrimack Watershed of Massachusetts may contact: Vanessa Johnson-Hall, Essex County Greenbelt, or Rita Thibodeau, NRCS,

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land.  

Essex County Greenbelt is a non-profit land trust that works to conserve the farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes within the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1961, Greenbelt has conserved over 17,800 acres of land, and has been directly involved in protecting 75% of Essex County land conserved in the last decade. 

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with the people of Massachusetts to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources. The agency has offices in USDA Service Centers in Greenfield, Hadley, Holden, Pittsfield, Westford, Wareham and West Yarmouth, which work with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners in their area.

Click the map to enlarge.

Nashua River Watershed