Missouri NRCS Sets January 19 Application Deadline for Easements

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Missouri farmers have until January 19, 2018, to enroll their property in conservation easements that protect critical wetlands, grasslands and other agricultural land. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $250 million, nationally, in technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups protect these valuable lands.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) focuses on restoring and protecting wetlands as well as conserving productive agricultural lands and grasslands. Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land in easements.

Through ACEP wetland reserve easements, NRCS helps landowners restore and protect wetland ecosystems. Wetlands are one of nature’s most productive ecosystems providing many ecological, societal and economic benefits.

Wetlands provide many benefits, including critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife species. They also store floodwaters, clean and recharge groundwater, sequester carbon, trap sediment, and filter pollutants for clean water.

Wetland conservation easements are either permanent or for 30 years. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored, croplands or grasslands subject to flooding, and riparian areas that link protected wetland areas. As part of the easement, NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the wetland.

Through ACEP agricultural land easements, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.

Partners include state or local agencies, non-profits and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program. Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and forestlands.

Landowners and tribes interested in wetland reserve easements, and partners interested in agricultural easements, should contact their local USDA service center. Applications for ACEP are taken on a continuous basis, but only those Missouri applications received by January 19, 2018, will be ranked and considered for funding this year.

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