State ecologist Jerry Raynor announced Thursday that USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Department in Indiana is making funds available to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, prairies and Indiana wetlands. Funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, created to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private landowners to maintain their lands for agriculture.
“Conservation easements are an important tool in helping landowners and their partners achieve their goals of protecting land for future generations,” Raynor said in a press release. “The NRCS helps guide landowners and partners through the easement process by providing technical expertise, conservation planning and financial assistance. “
ACEP streamlines conservation easement options into two main streams: a wetland reserve stream where the NRCS works directly with landowners to restore and protect their agricultural wetlands, and a farmland stream where the NRCS provides. assistance to agricultural land protection program partners to purchase agricultural land easements.
Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect wildlife habitat on their land, reduce flood damage, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Eligible entities must submit applications for WRE’s current funding pool by November 15.
CAPE’s agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the country’s food supply by preventing the conversion of productive labor land to non-agricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, l wildlife habitat, historical preservation and protection of open spaces. State and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and Native American tribes that have agricultural land or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with the NRCS and individual landowners to protect farmland through easements. . Eligible entities must submit applications for the current ALE funding pool by January 18, 2022.
In Indiana, more than 1,700 acres were enrolled in CAPE in the past year alone. When restored, these acres will join more than 80,000 acres of additional easements in the state. Many of these easements are in critical migration areas for waterfowl and other birds, such as the Wabash River, Goose Pond, Kankakee Marsh, and the Muscatatuck River Corridor.
“I cannot stress enough the benefits of restoring, enhancing and protecting these working agricultural lands and critical wetlands,” said Raynor. “The NRCS is committed to restoring and protecting wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve the quality of our water, as well as preserving working farmland to help protect the long-term viability of the agriculture in Indiana.
ACEP nominations can be submitted to the NRCS at any time; however, applications for the current funding cycle must be submitted by the closing date – November 15 for WRE and January 18 for ALE.
To learn more about CAPE and other technical and financial aids available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact your district ecologist at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local.
Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/easements for more information.