Alexandria, Louisiana – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Louisiana is making available up to $22 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Wetlands Reserve Easements (ACEP – WRE). Private landowners across the state are encouraged to apply. Even though NRCS accepts conservation program applications on a continuous basis, your ACEP-WRE application deadline is Friday, February 24th to be considered for 2017 funding. Applications received after this date will be evaluated for the funding year beginning October 1, 2017.
The ACEP-WRE program is designed to restore and protect wetlands across the nation. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. The Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) program helps private landowners successfully enhance and protect habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality and reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide opportunities for educational and recreational activities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. In FY 2016, NRCS in Louisiana provided $17 million in ACEP-WRE funding to enroll over 7,000 acres of eligible land through 44 new easements.
“NRCS provides assistance to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners through the WRE program by developing highly productive wildlife habitat, reducing the risk of farming flood-prone land, and improving environmental benefits while retaining private ownership,” explained, Kevin Norton, State Conservationist in Louisiana. “WRE is an important tool to help landowners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our state’s wetlands for future generations.”
Easement rates vary by region, but landowners may receive up to $3,410 per acre for enrolling eligible land in WRE. Additionally, NRCS will pay 100% of the restoration cost for permanent easements and 75% of the restoration cost for 30-year easements.
ACEP-WRE applications can be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, ACEP-WRE applications for 2017 funding consideration must be submitted to the local NRCS office by Friday, February 24, 2017.
For more information on ACEP, visit the NRCS ACEP webpage or your local NRCS office. To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. Learn more about the Farm Bill at www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill.