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News Release

Funding Available for New Jersey Landowners to Protect Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands

Barbara Phillips, Public Affairs Specialist
(732) 537-6044

Private landowners and eligible entities encouraged to apply by November 30, 2017.

SOMERSET, October 12, 2017 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) anticipates that approximately $4 million will be available to provide long-term protection of New Jersey’s farmland, wetlands and grasslands in 2018 through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). “Conservation easements can help landowners and partners voluntarily protect these vital resources for future generations,” Christine Hall, Acting New Jersey State Conservationist said. Over $4 million in ACEP funding was invested to protect close to 1,500 acres in New Jersey last year. ACEP applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria received by November 30 will be considered for this year’s program. ACEP has two components: Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements.

Working agricultural land is protected through ACEP's Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) component. Agricultural Land Easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, but also support environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. The agricultural land easement component is also available for "grasslands of special environmental significance," intended to protect high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses. 

Landowners must work with a cooperating entity and do not submit applications for ACEP-ALE directly to NRCS. State and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements, and several New Jersey land trust and governmental organizations are available to help interested landowners apply for a conservation easement through the NRCS program. Contact Gail Bartok, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, at 732-537-6042 or Lauren Lapczynski, Easement Specialist, at 732-537-6046 for more information about ACEP-ALE.

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), the second component of ACEP, allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. To apply for a wetlands easement through ACEP-WRE, visit NRCS at your local USDA Service Center

More information about ACEP and other NRCS conservation programs in New Jersey can be found online at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD)or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Release No.: FY18-01