NRCS starts signup for ag land, wetland conservation easements

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Farm Forum

Huron (NRCS) – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP).

“This is an exciting new opportunity through the 2014 Farm Bill for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said South Dakota State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich, Huron. “We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to see how this new Farm Bill program might fit their working lands objectives.”

The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, funds easements for agricultural lands and wetland reserves. Approved agricultural easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and non-industrial private forestland are eligible.

Wetland reserve easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. ACEP-Wetland Reserve Easements serve similar purposes of the former Wetland Reserve Program that was authorized under previous Farm Bills.

Applications are currently being accepted for wetlands reserve easements and will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

Applications must be submitted by June 6, 2014 and are available at local USDA Service Center and at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. Agreements will be evaluated starting in late August.

The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection, Grassland Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. Learn more about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/farmbill. To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. Learn more about the Farm Bill at www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill.