USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $250 million in technical and financial assistance in 2018 to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts, and other groups protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands, and grasslands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Through wetland reserve easements, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore and protect wetland ecosystems permanently or for 30 years. Through agricultural land easements, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase permanent conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program.
Applications for ACEP are taken on a continuous basis; however, 2018 consideration cutoff dates vary by state. Many occur during December, January, and February.
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