From the National Resources Conservation Service:
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP offers two conservation easement options: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
“NRCS is pleased to once again offer voluntary conservation easements to agricultural producers,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California. “Conservation easements assist our farmers and ranchers in accomplishing their objectives to keep working lands in production, protect prime agricultural soils, provide grazing opportunities, and restore wetlands on frequently flooded lands.”
ALE funds are provided to eligible entities, such as land trusts, non-governmental organizations, and local or state farmland protection agencies, to cost-share the purchase of conservation easements that permanently protect farming and ranching on privately owned lands. Voluntary agricultural easements prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of prime soils devoted to food and fiber production. NRCS encourages landowners to work with local entities with experience establishing conservation easements on farmland.
WRE assists farmers, ranchers and other private landowners with restoring and protecting degraded wetlands on marginal, flood-prone cropland and rangeland. Enrollment options include permanent and 30-year easements. Tribal landowners may enroll in 30-year contracts. WRE also includes a Grazing Reserve Rights option to enroll grazed rangeland and pasture under an approved management plan. The grazing rights option is available in three geographic areas: coastal pastures and wetlands of the north coast, California vernal pools, and intermountain wetlands of eastern California.
ACEP applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS. However, applications for current funding must be submitted on or before April 10, 2020.
Interested landowners and conservation partners can learn more about ACEP and the application process by visiting: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ca/programs/easements/acep/