SOMERSET, N.J., January 5, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria for ACEP received by February 5, 2021 will be considered for the 2021 program.
ACEP helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through two types of conservation easements; Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).
“The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program can help landowners, land trusts and other eligible groups preserve New Jersey’s wetlands and farmlands for our descendants,” said New Jersey State Conservationist Julie Hawkins. “The work we decide to do now will help ensure wildlife such as the Bog Turtle can be found in more than just a textbook, and that first juicy bite of a Jersey tomato or the popping sensation you feel when biting into our sweet blueberries will be experiences had by generations to come.”
Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses to protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food while supporting environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space. This component is also available for grasslands of special environmental significance, or high-quality grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.
Landowners interested in ACEP- ALE must work with a cooperating entity and do not submit applications for ACEP-ALE directly to NRCS. State and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements. Several New Jersey land trust and governmental organizations are also available to help interested landowners apply for a conservation easement through the NRCS program.
To apply for ACEP-ALE, or for more information, please contact Gail Bartok, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, at 732-537-6042 or Lauren Lapczynski, Easement Specialist, at 732-537-6046.
Wetland Reserve Easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.
To apply for ACEP-WRE, please contact your local NRCS Service Center.
Information on these and other NRCS programs can be found on the NJ NRCS website.
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