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Agricultural Conservation Easement Program


Easements collage

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 (ALE) 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 (WRE) component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

FY2019 ACEP signup deadline for Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) and Wetland Easement Reserve (WRE) applications – April 19th, 2019. Please submit the ALE application package to Kresta Faaborg, NRCS, 100 E B Street, Casper WY 82601.  

If you are interested in WRE, please contact your local NRCS office for an application and program information. All applications on file as of COB April 19th, 2019 will be considered for funding.

Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)

Purpose

What's New in ACEP?

ACEP applications can be submitted at any time. States are evaluating applications submitted before published cut-off dates for funding consideration in FY2018.

Other Documents:

Obligations to States
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Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) 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.

Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance (ALE-GSS)

At this time, Wyoming NRCS has not designated any Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance.

Protect the long term grazing uses and related conservation values on eligible private range and pasture lands. The program emphasizes support of grazing operations, maintaining and improving plant and animal biodiversity, and protecting grasslands and shrublands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Benefits
NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.  

Under the Agricultural Land component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

ACEP-ALE Deed Requirements:
Deed Requirements (PDF, 109 KB).

Easement Compensation

ALE Appraisal Specifications (PDF, 272 KB)

Eligibility

Land eligible for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) 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.

ACEP-ALE Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance: Under ACEP, provisions were included to provide an increased Federal share under ACEP-ALE for enrollment of Grasslands of Special Environmental Significance(GSS).  Definition for GSS is pending.

How to Apply

To enroll land through Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) , eligible partners may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire conservation easements on eligible land.

To Apply for Agricultural Land Easements in Wyoming, submit the following:

Supporting documentation must be submitted with the application in order to determine eligibility.

Ranking

FY2019 WY ACEP-ALE Ranking

FY2019 WY RCPP-ALE Ranking - Securing the Grass Highway for WY Migrations

FY 2019 WY RCPP-ALE Ranking - SE WY Wetland Partnership
 

Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE)

Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) 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.

Benefits

NRCS also provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of a wetland reserve easement.  For acreage owned by an Indian tribe, there is an additional enrollment option of a 30- year contract.  The Agreement for the Purchase of Conservation Easement (NRCS-LTP-31) will be sent to ranked and selected applications. 

Through the wetland reserve enrollment options, NRCS may enroll eligible land through:  

Permanent Easements – Permanent Easements are conservation easements in perpetuity. NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 75 to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
Warranty Easement Deed in Perpetuity (NRCS-LTP-30)
Water Uses and Water Rights Exhibit D

30-year Easements – 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement.  Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs. 
Warranty Easement Deed for 30 years (NRCS-LTP-32)
Water Uses and Water Rights Exhibit D

Term Easements - Term easements are easements that are for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State laws. NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the term easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes, and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements. 
30-Year Contract-Lands owned by Individual Indians
30-Year Contract-Non-Trust Tribal Lands
30-Year Contract-Tribal Trust Lands
Water Uses and Water Rights Exhibit D

For WRE, NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance.
NOTE: The forms may have minor changes due to ACEP-WRE and landowners will be required to use the updated forms when they are provided.

Easement Compensation

An offer of enrollment cannot be made in FY 2018 unless a reviewed and approved appraisal is obtained. NRCS will contract and pay for the appraisal.  Once an appraisal is obtained and approved, the Geographic Area Rate Cap will be applied to the Fair Market Value to determine the easement compensation value. 
WRE appraisal specifications

ACEP-WRE: FY 2019 GARCs

The GARC value for Permanent Easement Offers will be 85% of the Fair Market Value not to exceed $5,000/ac. In the event there is potential for providing the habitat needs of state species of concern. Justification for exceeding $5,000/ac is described below.

It is proposed that the GARC be set at not to exceed $5,000/ac for all enrollment types. The exception to the $5,000/ac GARC will be in the event there is an enrollment with a high likelihood of successful restoration that will provide habitat needs for state listed species of concern. The NRCS will be responsible for making the determination of high likelihood of successful restoration. The GARC will be 85% of the FMV not to exceed $5,000/ac in the event there is not potential for providing the habitat needs of these state listed species.

The GARC value for 30-yr Easements, 30-yr Tribal Land Use Contracts, and WRE-Reserved Rights* easements be 75% of the GARC value for permanent easements.

*Reserved Grazing Rights easements will be compensated at 75% of the full GARC for permanent easements and 75% of the 30-yr easement (.75 x .75 = .56), which is 56% of the full GARC. This accounts for the additional retained grazing value to the landowner.

Example:
Appraised Fair Market Value (FMV) GARC Permanent Easement

30 Year Easement with no Reserved Rights or a Permanent Easement with Reserved Rights (75% of GARC=63.75%)

30 Year Easement with Reserved Rights (75% of GARC=63.75% * 75%=47.813%)

$100,000 85% FMV $85,000 $63,750 $47,812.50

Eligibility

Land eligible for Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) 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.

How to Apply

To enroll land through Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE), landowners may apply at any time at the local USDA Service Center.  To Apply for Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) in Wyoming–submit an Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200) with your local NRCS Service Center.  Your local NRCS Representative will work with you to determine eligibility and provide guidance on additional steps to complete the WRE application as needed.

Ranking

ACEP-WRE applications will be ranked for enrollment based on the following:

  1. The likelihood of successful restoration of wetland functions and values, and maximizing wildlife benefits, taking into consideration the cost of restoration, protection, enhancement, maintenance, management, and the cost of acquiring the easement or 30-year contract.
  2. The significance of the wetland functions and values.
  3. The duration of a proposed enrollment, with permanent easements being given priority over nonpermanent easements or 30-year contracts.

FY2019 WY ACEP-WRE Ranking

More Information

ACEP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.2MB)

Program Contact

Kresta Faaborg, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 307-233-6757

 

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

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