NRCS in Indiana Accepting Applications from Producers, Landowners for the Agricultural Conservation
INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 6, 2022 – Acting State Conservationist Dan Hovland announced today that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana is accepting applications from agricultural producers and forest landowners for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which helps producers enroll wetlands, grasslands and farmlands into conservation easements.
“Conservation easements play an important role in our mission of helping people help the land by ensuring future generations have access to prime farmland and outdoor recreation opportunities,” Hovland said. “Indiana has seen a large increase in per acre GARC rates throughout the state for Fiscal Year 2023 making this a great time enroll your land in a conservation easement. Indiana NRCS experts will guide you through the entire process by providing technical expertise, conservation planning and financial assistance.”
While NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, Indiana producers and landowners should apply by program specific ranking dates to be considered for the current funding cycle. Applications received after the ranking date will automatically be considered during the next funding cycle.
ACEP enrollment options include:
• ACEP-Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE): WRE helps restore, protect and enhance wetlands on eligible land in order to provide wildlife habitat, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and/or provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Wetland reserve easements are either perpetual, 30-years or 30-year contracts (for Indian Tribes). Eligible entities must submit applications for WRE’s current funding pool on or before November 15.
• ACEP-Wetland Reserve Easements in the Western Lake Erie Basin: There is $350,000 of targeted funding for Indiana counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin including parts of Adams, Wells, Allen, DeKalb, Noble and Steuben counties through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Eligible entities in the Western Lake Erie Basin must submit applications for GLRI-WRE’s current funding pool on or before November 15.
• ACEP-Agricultural Land Easements (ALE): Agricultural easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support 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 and individual landowners to protect farmland through easements. Eligible entities must submit applications for ALE’s current funding pool on or before January 17, 2023.
In Indiana more than 1,700 acres have been enrolled in ACEP in the last year alone. Once restored, these acres will join more than 80,000 acres of additional easements in the state. Many of these easements lie in critical migratory areas for waterfowl and other birds such as the Wabash River, Goose Pond, Kankakee Marsh and Muscatatuck River Corridor.
“Restored wetlands provide critical wildlife habitat and help to improve water quality while agriculture easements protect key agricultural land and help Indiana farmers to provide food and fiber for the world’s growing population,” Hovland said. “Indiana NRCS is committed to helping our landowners protect and restore these critical landscapes to accomplish conservation goals on their land.”
To learn more about ACEP in Indiana visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/in/programs/easements/acep/. For more information about ACEP or to apply contact Deb Knepp, NRCS District Conservationist for St. Joseph County, at 574-936-2024 ext. 4.