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News Release

New Hampshire U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service Announces the 2020 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Application Cutoff Dates

Jeremy J. Fowler, Public Affairs Specialist
(603) 868-9931

DOVER, N.H. March 10, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Hampshire has established the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) application cutoff batching dates.

   The application cutoff batching dates will be April 30, June 30 and Aug. 28, 2020.

   The ACEP provides private landowners the opportunity to permanently protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands and wildlife habitat under Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) and to conserve productive agricultural lands under the Agricultural Land Easements (ALE).  Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land into the easement program.  “Protecting these lands preserves New Hampshire’s heritage, natural resources and open space,” said Rick Ellsmore, NRCS New Hampshire State Conservationist. “Easements are also important tools for people who are trying to improve the management of their land.”

   Updated application forms and other important program information can be found on the N.H. ACEP webpages:  Application ranking criteria for FY 2020 is currently under development and will be posted to the New Hampshire ACEP webpages prior to the initial April 30 application cutoff date.  Although ACEP applications may be filed on a continuous basis, management of the program requires periodic application cutoff dates to establish batching periods during which complete and eligible applications received prior to the cutoff date may be considered for funding.

   The ACEP was originally established under the 2014 Farm Bill that expired Sept. 30, 2018 and was reauthorized with some changes when Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill on Dec. 20, 2018.  Applications will be reviewed in accordance with the new interim program rule and policies.  Only properly completed and executed applications submitted on the appropriate forms, accompanied by all required supporting documentation by the application cutoff dates, will be considered for funding in FY 2020.

Agricultural Land Easements

   Through ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.  Partners include state or local agencies, non-profits, and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The partner applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner to permanently protect the agricultural use and conservation values of the land.  Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this option.  Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland, and forestlands.

   All eligible entities interested in applying to ACEP-ALE in FY 2020 must submit an ‘Entity Application for an ALE Agreement’ on form NRCS-CPA-41 (dated 02/2020),   and an accompanying ‘Parcel Sheet for Entity Application for an ALE Agreement’ on form NRCS-CPA-41A (dated 02/2020) for each parcel to be considered for funding in FY 2020.

   In FY 2020, there will be a new option for the use of ALE program agreements.  The ALE program agreements are designed to streamline the enrollment process and allow for year-round evaluation, selection, and funding of individual parcels.  The new versions of the ALE applications allow the eligible entity to identify which type of ALE agreement they are interested in.  Given the condensed program timeline in FY 2020, entities are encouraged to elect the new ALE program agreement option in order to maximize enrollment and obligation of available funding.

 Wetland Reserve Easements

   Through ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), NRCS helps landowners to protect, restore, enhance, and manage wildlife habitat, water quality improvement, flood water retention, groundwater recharge, open space, aesthetic values, and environmental education.  Wetlands are one of nature’s most productive ecosystems providing many ecological, societal, and economic benefits. Seventy-five percent of the nation's wetlands are situated on private and tribal lands.  Eligible lands include privately owned farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored; croplands or grasslands subject to flooding; and riparian areas that link protected wetlands within one mile along wetland or riparian corridors.  Landowners apply directly to NRCS for funding under this option. 

   Landowners interested in applying to ACEP-WRE must submit a complete and property executed ‘Conservation Program Application’ using the version of Form NRCS-CPA-1200 that is dated 03/2019 or later.  

More Information

   Landowners interested in wetland reserve easements and partners interested in agricultural easements should visit the NH ACEP website and contact the state office.

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