NRCS Seeks Comments on Easement Program

NRCS Seeks Comments on Easement Program

The Natural Resources Conservation Service announced on January 6 that the proposed rule for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) was available for comment through March 6. The agency will be investing $300 million easements for fiscal year 2020 and will be utilizing the new rules when allocating the funds.

Specifically, the proposed changes for agricultural land easements include: Authorizing assistance to partners who pursue “Buy-Protect-Sell” transactions, requiring a conservation plan for highly erodible land that will be protected by an agricultural land easement, and increasing flexibility for partners to meet cost-share matching requirements. Proposed changes to wetland reserve easements include: Identifying water quality as a program purpose for enrollment of wetland reserve easements, and expanding wetland types eligible for restoration and management under wetland reserve easements

“Through easements, agricultural landowners are protecting agricultural lands from development, restoring grazing lands and returning wetlands to their natural conditions,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “The new changes to ACEP under the 2018 Farm Bill make it stronger and more effective and will result in even better protection of our nation’s farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.”

NRCS invites comments on this interim rule through March 6 on the Federal Register. Electronic comments must be submitted through under Docket ID NRCS-2019-0006.

January 15, 2020