The USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications under the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) for the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) and the Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) programs. Nationwide in fiscal year 2018, NRCS plans to invest $250 million in conservation easements.
Agricultural Land Easement (ALE)
For agricultural lands, funds are provided to eligible entities that can use ACEP funding to purchase agricultural land easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. Approved easements aim to prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses while maximizing protection of land devoted to food and fiber production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
For properties being put in an ALE, NRCS may contribute up to 50% of the fair market value of the easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75% of the fair market value of the ALE.
Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE)
Under the wetland reserve component, funding is provided to landowners for both the purchase of an easement and for restoration. WREs restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Restoration funds are also used to improve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, improve water quality, reduce flood damage, and encourage outdoor education and recreation. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.
WRE enrollment options include:
- Permanent easements - NRCS pays 100% of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 75 to 100% of the restoration costs.
- 30-year easements - expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 50 to 75% of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75% of the restoration costs.
- Term easements - for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State laws. NRCS pays 50 to 75% of the easement value for the purchase of the term easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75% of the restoration costs.
- 30-year contracts - only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes, and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements.
For landowners in Wyoming, questions Mary Schrader at (307) 233-6757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more, watch the webinar below.