USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Delaware is now accepting applications from landowners interested in protecting Delaware’s wetlands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through the Wetland Reserve Easement component of ACEP to restore, protect and enhance wetlands. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, but the deadline to apply for fiscal year 2019 funding is Friday, April 19.
WRE applicants must have farm records established with USDA's Farm Service Agency and the land should have been owned for two years. 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 Dec. 23, 1985. Conservation Reserve Program land established with trees may also be eligible for enrollment through a waiver process.
Landowners have two options under WRE. For permanent easements, NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. NRCS also pays up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
For 30-year easements, NRCS pays the landowner 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement and 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
“Conserving wetlands has tremendous benefits in Delaware, including improvements to water quality as well as safeguarding wildlife habitat,” said Kasey Taylor, Delaware state conservationist. “I encourage our farmers to engage with their local conservationists to learn more as conserving wetlands may be closer to you and more beneficial than expected.”
Applications are available local USDA Service Centers. For online applications, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. For more information about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs, go to www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.