USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently accepting applications for a variety of programs. The NRCS opportunities that are available include the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) as well as the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Applications for the current funding round of ACEP will need to be submitted on or before April 10. Proposals for CIG grants going to be due by May 8.
Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) are the two conservation easements options available through ACEP. ALE funds are provided as a cost-share for the purchase of conservation easements which will permanently protect farming and ranching on privately owned lands. WRE assists with the restoration and protection of degraded wetlands on marginal, flood-prone agricultural land, and also includes a Grazing Reserve Rights option for enrolling grazed rangeland and pasture under an approved management plan.
“Conservation easements assist our farmers and ranchers in accomplishing their objectives to keep working lands in production, protect prime agricultural soils, provide grazing opportunities, and restore wetlands on frequently flooded lands,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California.
The CIG program is another one of the NRCS opportunities that are currently accepting proposals and will be awarding a total of up to $750,000 for the program. Project awards of one- to three-year grants will not exceed $125,000 for the fiscal year 2020. The program is aimed at increasing the development and implementation of conservation approaches in agricultural production. The funding support is typically used for pilot projects, field demonstrations, as well as on-farm conservation research.
“As an Agency in a dynamic world we need to constantly adapt our technical tools to match them to the ever-evolving natural resource challenges found on California farms and ranches,” said Suarez. “CIG grants are a great way to open ourselves to the ingenuity available in both public and private partners and organizations.”