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Easement program funds available in Illinois


December 1, 2015
By Drainage Contractor administrator

The USDA’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) will invest $350 million to help protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the United States.


The 2014 Farm Bill created the new ACEP by combining three former programs into one, and adding in financial contributions and support from conservation partners. For fiscal year 2016, Illinois NRCS received $2,056,990 for WRE and $327,000 for ALE. Landowners can sign up for these programs anytime during the year but to have applications considered for the first round of funding, completed application packets must be submitted to the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office by the Jan. 15, 2016 cutoff date.

The Wetland Reserve acres not only reduce damage from flooding and provide habitat for migrating waterfowl, they also provide groundwater recharge and an opportunity to improve water quality by trapping sediment and keeping pollutants from rivers and streams. The Agricultural Land easements keep prime farmland in production and reduce threats of land conversion.

State and local governments and non-governmental organizations with farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to collaborate with NRCS to purchase conservation easements using ACEP’s agricultural land easements. 

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In fiscal year 2015, NRCS invested more than $2.2 million in ACEP funding to help landowners engage in voluntary conservation and provide long-term protection for land in Crawford, Kane, Lawrence, and Wabash Counties. Last year more than 50 landowners and partners submitted new easement applications across the state. Because funding for ACEP projects is competitive, landowners should submit applications in a timely manner.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov or your local USDA Service Center.


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