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Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

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The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land.  Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

What's New in ACEP?
Transition to ACEP Webinar on YouTube (opens in new window)

https://youtu.be/9gDYYJ0IzIQ

ACEP Interim Final Rule Public
Comment Period Extension

The public comment period is closed

View comments on the ACEP Interim Final Rule on the Regulations.gov website

A summary of the changes is on the NRCS Farm Bill Rules page.

FY 2018 ACEP - ALE Minimum Deed Terms (DOC, 107KB)

ACEP Program Manual (HTML | generate 3.8MB PDF )

Other Documents
Civil Rights Impact Analysis (PDF, 11MB)
Regulatory Impact Analysis  (PDF,152KB)
Environmental Assessment
Finding of No Significant Impact

Benefits
Agricultural Land Easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses.  Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

Eligibility
Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use.

Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

To enroll land through agricultural land easements, NRCS enters into cooperative agreements with eligible partners. Each easement is required to have an agricultural land easement plan that promotes the long-term viability of the land.

To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners or Indian tribes that include the right for NRCS to develop and implement a wetland reserve restoration easement plan. This plan restores, protects, and enhances the wetland’s functions and values.

How to Apply in Illinois
Agricultural Land Easements - eligible partners may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire conservation easements on eligible land.

Wetland Reserve Easements - landowners may apply at any time at the local USDA Service Center.

To apply for ACEP in Illinois, visit your local USDA Service Center, NRCS office.

More Information


To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted

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