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New Hampshire USDA NRCS Announces the 2022 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Ranking Threshold and Application Batching Dates

An conservation easement field sits int he fall sunlight in Boscawen, N.H. October 28, 2021.

 

DOVER, N.H., October 28, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Hampshire announces the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) application cutoff batching dates and establishment of a continuous funding process new for FY 2022.

     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.”

     The NRCS State Conservationist will establish application batching periods and select the highest ranked applications for funding, based on applicant eligibility and the NRCS ranking process. The NRCS State Conservationist in consultation with the State Technical Committee may also establish a minimum ranking threshold for making continuous selections ahead of application batching periods. In Fiscal Year 2022, NRCS will use its Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) to assess and rank all eligible applications for NRCS conservation programs. However, a manual calculation for the sum of points earned from the program and resource consideration questions will be used to determine applications meeting the minimum threshold for continuous selection. The minimum threshold for continuous selection will be 50% of the total available points or 200 out of the 400 total available points. Complete and eligible applications that rank below the minimum ranking threshold will be considered for funding after the established application batching periods and as funding allows. The FY 2022 application batching dates are January 21, 2022 and May 20, 2022.  Updated application forms, FY 2022 ranking criteria, and other important program information can be found on the NH ACEP-WRE webpage and the NH ACEP-ALE webpage. Only properly completed and executed applications submitted on the appropriate forms and accompanied by all required supporting documentation will be considered for funding in FY 2022.
 


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 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 2022 ALE Parcel Workbook (including required documents therein) for each parcel to be considered for funding in FY 2022.  Entities are encouraged to select the ALE Program Agreement option on the NRCS-CPA-41 in order to maximize enrollment and obligation of available funding. 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 (including required documents therein) for the parcel must be submitted.
 


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 directly link protected wetlands within one mile along wetland or riparian corridors 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, contact a local NRCS field office, or contact a member of the Easements Team at the NH State Office for more information on ACEP.

     Farm records must be established/updated and landowner eligibility paperwork must be filed at the local Farm Services Agency (FSA) office prior to submitting an ACEP application.  Landowners are encouraged to begin this process with FSA as early in the fiscal year (beginning October 1) as possible to allow enough time for appropriate reviews to be completed.

     All required forms and supporting documentation for the ALE program can be found on the NH NRCS website at Agricultural Land Easements | NRCS New Hampshire (https://go.usa.gov/xAN4P).

     All required forms and supporting documentation for the WRE program can be found on the NH NRCS website at Wetland Reserve Easements | NRCS New Hampshire (https://go.usa.gov/xAN4m).

 

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