Oklahoma NRCS announces applications being accepted for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easement component
Oklahoma’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Gary O’Neill, has announced the agency is accepting applications for its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) – Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component, and those submitted by March 27, 2020, will be considered for FY2020 funding.
NRCS will prioritize applications that protect, restore and enhance habitat for wildlife on their lands and reduce damage from flooding and recharge groundwater.
“USDA is committed to restoring and protecting vital sensitive wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve water quality,” O’Neill said.
Land eligible for easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland and pastureland land owned by private individuals or Native American Tribes. Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.
ACEP has two components, one for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), and one for Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). Applications for both ALE and WRE are accepted on a continuous basis.
- Under the ALE component, funds are provided to eligible entities that use ACEP funding to purchase permanent agricultural land easements that not only protect the future of the nation’s food supply, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, and historic preservation and protection of open spaces.
- Under the WRE component, funding is provided directly to landowners for the purchase of an easement and for restoration. Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance, and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands. Eligible landowners may choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.
To apply for a Wetland Reserve Easement, landowners should contact their local NRCS field office, to be considered in the current batching period ending March 27, 2020.