The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Delaware is accepting applications now until June 6 for its new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. NRCS technical and financial assistance are available for the purchase of conservation easements on eligible agricultural lands and wetlands.
“Conservation easements are a win-win for all because they protect our working lands and our wetlands, thus strengthening our agricultural operations, sustaining our nation’s food supply and protecting habitat for diverse species of wildlife,” said Delaware NRCS state conservationist Kasey Taylor.
Through the Agricultural Land Easements component of ACEP, approved ag land easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to nonagricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Eligible entities include state and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs. Eligible land for agricultural easements includes cropland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland.
Through the Wetland Reserve Easements component of ACEP, approved easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve wildlife habitat. Landowners of eligible farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored are eligible to apply.
Applications for wetlands reserve easements will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.
ACEP applications must be submitted by June 6 to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2014.
For more information on ACEP, contact a USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, Ext. 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, Ext. 3. More information on all NRCS programs and services is available at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.