DAVIS, Calif., May 9, 2014 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) through the new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, provides funding for conservation easements on agricultural land, including grasslands of special environmental significance.
“This is an exciting new opportunity for more people to get involved in conserving natural resources,” said California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “We encourage land trusts, private conservation organizations, and state and local governments that protect agricultural land to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”
ALE funds are provided to eligible entities to purchase conservation easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of privately owned land. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are all eligible. Approved agricultural easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production.
While NRCS will accept ALE applications throughout the year, NRCS plans to make 2014 funding decisions from the pool of applications received by June 6. As with all NRCS easements, the landowner retains the title to the land, and the right to control access and recreational use. The land remains on the tax rolls.
The ACEP combines the conservation purposes of NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Grassland Reserve Program, and and Wetlands Reserve Program. Learn more about ACEP by visiting www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.
Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.