USDA Offers Assistance to Protect Privately-Owned Wetlands, Agricultural Lands and Grasslands

Next Deadline: April 26, 2019

Contact: Heather Emmons, State Public Affairs Officer

Phone: (775) 857-8500 ext. 105

Email: heather.emmons@nv.usda.gov

Reno, Nevada – Would you like to protect your agricultural land from future development? Do you want to keep your ranch or farm in agriculture for future generations? Is it important to you to restore wetland habitat on your land and protect it for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages people and groups wanting to protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands and grasslands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts, and other groups protect these valuable lands.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) focuses on restoring and protecting wetlands, as well as conserving productive agricultural lands and grasslands. The program has two components: one for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and one for Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land in easements. NRCS accepts applications for ACEP on a continuous basis, and they are ranked and considered for funding several times per year. The next deadline is April 26, 2019 for ACEP ALE and ACEP WRE.

“The ACEP is an opportunity to protect and preserve Nevada’s heritage, natural resources and open space,” said Ray Dotson, NRCS Nevada state conservationist. “Easements are also important tools for people who are trying to improve the management of their land.”

Over the past 25 years, NRCS has worked with landowners to protect more than 4.4 million acres of wetlands and agricultural lands, resulting in improved soil health, water and air quality and wildlife habitat. In the last two years, easements have protected more than 9,000 acres in Nevada. The 2014 Farm Bill created the ACEP, merging together several easement programs into one. The ACEP has been re-authorized in the new 2018 Farm Bill with minimal changes to the current ACEP regulations for fiscal year 2019.

Wetland Reserve Easements

Through ACEP wetland reserve easements, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore and protect wetland ecosystems. Wetland conservation easements are either permanent or for 30 years. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored, croplands or grasslands subject to flooding, and riparian areas that link protected wetland areas. As part of the easement, NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the wetland.

Agricultural Land Easements

Through ACEP agricultural land easements, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.

Partners include state or local agencies, non-profits and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program.

Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland, and forestlands.

More Information

Landowners and tribes interested in wetland reserve easements and partners interested in agricultural easements should contact their local USDA service center.

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