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Applications for 2020 USDA-NRCS Conservation Easement Program due by April 3

Applications for 2020 USDA-NRCS Conservation Easement Program due by April 3

Contact: Lauren Lapczynski (732) 537-6046 or lauren.lapczynski@usda.gov

Funding helps New Jersey landowners protect agricultural working lands, grasslands and wetlands

SOMERSET, March 2, 2020- Diane Gray, Acting New Jersey State Conservationist, announces the application period for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps provide long-term protection of New Jersey’s farmland, wetlands and grasslands through ACEP. Applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria for ACEP received by April 3, 2020 will be considered for the 2020 program.

NRCS offers two types of easements through ACEP: Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements.

ACEP's Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) protects working agricultural lands. The aim of ALE is to protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, while supporting 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 interested in the ALE 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 www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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Release no.: FY2020-01