February 15 Next Application Cutoff for Conservation Easements

DES MOINES, IA, January 14, 2021 — Private landowners, tribal entities and Iowa Land Trusts interested in permanent conservation easements to protect and restore wetlands and agricultural working lands through USDA’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) should submit applications and required documents by Feb. 15.

Through the ACEP wetland component, Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and tribal entities to protect and restore wetlands through the purchase of a wetland conservation easement. NRCS will enroll eligible land through permanent or 30-year easements.

NRCS also provides financial assistance to eligible entity partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) that protect the ag land use and conservation values of eligible land. For working farms, ALE helps farmers keep their land in agriculture. This program also helps protect grazing uses by conserving grasslands and pastures.

Private landowners and tribal entities can contact their local NRCS office to find out if they have eligible wetlands on their property, how to complete the application form, or for information about required ownership documents. Iowa Land Trusts can contact the NRCS State Office in Des Moines at 515-284-4262 for assistance with the application process.

In 2020, NRCS obligated $10.5 million to permanently protect and restore 7 easements covering 1,755 acres. There are currently 1,664 USDA-enrolled conservation easements in Iowa that cover 190,689 acres.

To learn more about ACEP, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/ia/programs/easements/acep/ or contact your local NRCS office. Most USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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