From the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
LITTLE ROCK — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications for its new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program. Landowners of eligible agricultural lands and wetlands in Arkansas have until June 6, 2014, to submit applications for funding consideration.
“This is an exciting new opportunity for even more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said Mike Sullivan, Arkansas state conservationist. “We encourage state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”
The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, funds easements for agricultural lands and wetland reserves. The program has two components: 1) Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), and 2) Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
The ALE component combines the purposes and functions of the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) to protect working agricultural lands by providing financial assistance to eligible entities toward the purchase of Agricultural Land Easements.
Approved agricultural easements 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 nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
The WRE component replaces and operates like the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and will provide financial assistance directly to private and Tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of Wetland Reserve Easements.
Wetland reserve easements restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.
Applications are available at your local USDA service center and at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted
. Applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife. Agreements will be evaluated in July with easement offers being made in August.
Learn more about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/farmbill