AK Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP): Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE)

USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service of Alaska


Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Jan 5, 2019 5:00pm PST

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity College / University Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Alaska

Location of residency: Alaska

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Overview:

AK Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP): Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE)

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve working agricultural lands and restore wetlands impacted by agricultural production.  Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) component, NRCS works with landowners directly to restore, protect, and enhance eligible wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production.

NRCS Alaska Allocated $975,000 for Fiscal Year 2017 for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), created by the 2014 Farm Bill to encourage private owners to maintain land for farming and ranching and to protect critical wetland resources for wildlife habitat and water quality. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.

Benefits

Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, and protect biological diversity by restoring wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production.

NRCS also provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production through the purchase of a wetland reserve easement. For acreage owned by an Indian tribe, there is an additional enrollment option of a 30-year contract.

Wetland Reserve enrollment options

Permanent Easements – Permanent Easements are conservation easements in perpetuity. NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 75 to 100 percent of the restoration costs. 

30-year Easements – 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.  

Term Easements - Term easements are easements that are for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State laws. NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the term easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs. 

30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes, and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements.

For wetland reserve easements, NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including survey costs, appraisal fees, title insurance, and closing costs.

Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership - The 2014 Farm Bill replaced the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program with the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership as an enrollment option under ACEP - WRE. WREP continues to be a voluntary program through which NRCS signs agreements with eligible partners to leverage resources to carry out high-priority wetland protection, restoration and enhancement projects.

Partner benefits through WREP agreements include: 

  • Wetland restoration and protection in critical areas
  • Ability to cost-share restoration or enhancement beyond NRCS requirements through leveraging
  • Able to participate in the management or monitoring of selected project locations
  • Ability to use innovative restoration methods and practices

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • Land eligible for Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) includes wetlands historically impacted by agricultural production that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. 
  • To enroll wetlands, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners or Indian tribes that include the right for NRCS to develop and implement a wetland reserve restoration easement plan.
    • This plan serves as the basis for appropriate and feasible practices to restore, protect, and enhance the wetland’s functions and values.

Preferences:

  • NRCS will prioritize applications based on the feasibility of restoration and the easement's potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.