USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is reminding Delaware landowners of the open application period for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Through ACEP, NRCS offers technical and financial assistance for the purchase of conservation easements on eligible agricultural lands and wetlands. Although landowners and eligible entities may apply at any time, in order to be considered for FY 2023 funding, applications must be received by the following dates:
Friday, February 17, 2023 – Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE)
Friday, March 3, 2023 – Agricultural Land Easements (ALE)
WRE and ALE are the two easement components under ACEP, each with a different application process. Please contact your local NRCS office to ensure you receive guidance on the correct application process.
- ACEP–Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) help preserve productive cropland, grassland, pastureland, and nonindustrial private forestland from conversion to non-agricultural uses. Eligible partners include state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs. Under the ALE, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.
- ACEP–Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) restore and enhance wetlands and improve wildlife habitat. Wetland conservation easements are either permanent or for 30 years. Landowners of eligible farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored are eligible to apply.
“Easements give agricultural producers the opportunity to keep working lands working, protect open spaces, and provide a beneficial impact to Delaware’s natural resources and wildlife,” said Kasey L. Taylor, NRCS State Conservationist in Delaware.
Applicants must own the land for two years and have farm records established with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Properties eligible for WRE include farmed wetlands that can be successfully and economically restored; former or degraded wetlands with a history of agricultural use; wetlands farmed under natural conditions; and “prior-converted” cropland converted on or before December 23, 1985.
For more information on ACEP, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Additional information on all NRCS programs and services is available online at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.
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