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News Release

New Hampshire USDA NRCS Announces the 2021 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Application Cutoff Dates

Jeremy J. Fowler, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, N.H.

A banner advertising the ACEP 2021 cutoff dates.


DOVER, N.H., January 7, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Hampshire has established the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) application cutoff batching dates.  The application cutoff batching date will be February 12.

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. 

“These lands are an important part of New Hampshire’s landscape,” said Becky Ross, State Conservationist for NRCS in New Hampshire. “Protecting these lands not only preserves the visual aspect of Granite State heritage, but more importantly it ensures that natural resources and open space are available for future generations.  These 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 2021 is currently under development and will be posted to the New Hampshire ACEP webpages prior to the February 12 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 interim and final program rules and policies.  Only properly completed and executed applications submitted on the appropriate forms by the application cutoff dates, accompanied by all required supporting documentation, will be considered for funding in FY 2021.

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 forest lands. 

All eligible entities interested in applying to ACEP-ALE in FY 2021 must submit an ‘Entity Application for an ALE Agreement’ on form NRCS-CPA-41 (dated 02/2020 or later), a ‘Parcel Sheet for Entity Application for an ALE Agreement’ on form NRCS-CPA-41A (dated 02/2020 or later), and the FY 2021 ALE Parcel Workbook for each parcel to be considered for funding in FY 2021.  If the eligible entity is only applying to add new Parcel Contracts to an existing ACEP-ALE Program Agreement, an entity application (NRCS-CPA-41) is not required, only the NRCS-CPA-41A and associated Parcel Workbook for the parcel must be submitted.

In FY 2021, the ACEP-ALE Program Agreement and Parcel Contracts will be the primary method used for enrollment in ACEP-ALE.  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.  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 prioritized for enrollment include: riparian areas that link protected wetlands within one mile along wetland or riparian corridor and adjacent lands that significantly contribute to the protection, restoration and enhancement of wetland functions and values.  Landowners apply directly to NRCS for funding under this option. 

Landowners interested in applying to ACEP-WRE must submit a complete application package including a properly executed ‘Conservation Program Application’ on form NRCS-CPA-1200 (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 at or contact the state office.

All required forms and supporting documentation for the ALE program can be found on the NH NRCS website at

All required forms and supporting documentation for the WRE program can be found on the NH NRCS website at


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