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News Release

NRCS Washington Announces $10.1 Million in Financial Assistance Available to Help States, Private Partners Protect and Restore Grasslands, Wetlands, and Working Lands

Contact:
Dave Kreft, Easement Programs Coordinator
509323-2991


SPOKANE, Dec. 2, 2016 – State Conservationist Roylene Rides at the Door announced today the availability of $10.1 million in financial assistance for Washington landowners and cooperating entities to help protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the state. Funding is provided through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). The program was created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private landowners to maintain land for farming and ranching. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.

Applications for 2017 funding consideration are due into the NRCS by close of business January 31, 2017. Applications for ACEP are accepted throughout the year. At least once each year a funding cutoff date is set in order to batch applications in-hand for eligibility and ranking determinations.

“We are thrilled at the level of ACEP funding we have available this year in Washington State,” said NRCS State Conservationist Roylene Rides at the Door. “We have made a commitment to help maintain lands in agricultural use and to protect and restore wetlands to benefit wildlife and water quality. We have targeted more than half of these ACEP funds to benefit at-risk species such as Sage Grouse, salmon and steelhead runs and critical habitats for these and many other species,” said Rides at the Door.

ACEP's Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces.  Native American tribes, 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. To learn more about Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) please visit our ACEP ALE web page.

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) allow private and tribal landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year land use contracts. To learn more about Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) please visit our ACEP WRE web page.

2017 is the peak year for ACEP funding authorized by Congress under the 2014 farm Bill. Nationwide this year the NRCS will invest $377 million for new ACEP enrollments and habitat protection and restoration.

 To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center.

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