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News Release

Application deadline for USDA-NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program set for February 26 2021.

Rebecca Haddix

Morgantown, WV, January 27, 2021  The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps provide long-term protection of West Virginia farmlands and wetlands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria for ACEP received prior to February 26, 2021, will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2021. NRCS offers two types of easements through ACEP: Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements.

Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) protect working agricultural lands. The purpose of ALE is to safeguard the nation’s food supply by protecting the agricultural use and future viability, and related conservation values, of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses of that land that negatively affect the agricultural uses and conservation values.

Landowners interested in ALE must work with an eligible entity and do not submit applications for ACEP-ALE directly to NRCS. State and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland protection programs are potential eligible entities that may apply to NRCS for financial assistance to purchase conservation easements on eligible land. Eligible entities should be aware of the new ACEP-ALE program agreement option designed to improve the enrollment, selection, and funding process from the cooperative agreement option utilized in prior years.

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) 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 easements. Eligible landowners with eligible land can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year option. To apply for a wetland easement through ACEP-WRE, please visit your local NRCS Service Center.

More information about ACEP, and other NRCS conservation programs in West Virginia, can be found online at In addition, please contact Matt Oliver, Easement Specialist, NRCS, at 304-284-7564, or Laura Smith, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, NRCS, at 304-284-7543, for questions related to ACEP.