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June 3, 2020

3/18/2020 2:03:00 PM
Funding available to protect farmlands, grasslands, wetlands

District Conserva-tionist Jenny Vogel of Jennings County reminds you that Indiana's USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making funding available to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across Indiana.

The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), created to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming. Eligible entities must submit applications for the current funding pool on or before Friday, April 5.

"Conservation easements help Hoosier farmers protect valuable agricultural lands from development while enhancing lands best suited for grazing and wetlands to their natural conditions," Vogel said. "These easements are making a dramatic and positive impact for food supply, rural communities, and species habitat."

ACEP streamlines the conservation easement options into two primary components: a working lands component where NRCS provides assistance to partners with farmland protection programs to purchase agricultural land easements, and a wetlands reserve component where NRCS works directly with landowners to restore and protect their agricultural wetlands. In Indiana, over 1,900 acres were enrolled in ACEP in the last year alone. Once restored, these acres will join over 77,500 acres of protected easements within the state.

ACEP's Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) protects the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses while supporting environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces. State and local governments, non-governmental organizations and Native American Tribes that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to protect farmland through easements.

Wetland reserve easements (WRE) help landowners reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater, restore, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

Submit ACEP applications any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before Friday, April 5.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit nrcs.usda. gov/GetStarted or contact a District Conservationist at nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/in/contact/local. For those in the Jennings County and southeast Indiana area, call Jenny Vogel at 812-346-3411 or jenny.vogel@in.usda.gov)

For more information about easements in Indiana, visit nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/in/programs/easements/.

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