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

USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service of Oklahoma


Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Jan 19, 2019

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Oklahoma

Location of residency: Oklahoma

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Overview:

ACEP

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

Benefits

 Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

Wetland Reserve Easements

NRCS also provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands 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. 

Through the wetland reserve enrollment options, NRCS may enroll eligible land through: 

  • 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. 
  • 30-year Contracts – 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. 

Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership

The USDA is investing up to $15 million in technical and financial assistance to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on agricultural lands. Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), part of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a Farm Bill Conservation program. Proposals from partners must be submitted to NRCS state offices by April 24, 2017. The partnership is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Through WREP Partners, such as local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with the NRCS through cooperative and partnership agreements.

This year, NRCS is encouraging partners to propose projects that focus on improving water quality as well as wildlife habitat on working landscapes. A number of at-risk species including the Northern pintail, whooping crane, little blue heron and alligator snapping turtles as well as a variety of mussels and amphibians can benefit from restoring wetlands.

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

Eligibility:

  • Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.
  • For wetland reserve easements, NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance.
  • To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, 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 restores, protects, and enhances the wetland’s functions and values.

Preferences:

  • NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.