DOVER, Del. — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Delaware is currently accepting applications from landowners interested in protecting wetlands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component of ACEP to restore, protect and enhance wetlands. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, but the deadline to apply for fiscal year 2020 funding is April 24, 2020.
“Delaware wetlands provide critical habitat to numerous wildlife species, store floodwaters, recharge groundwater and improve water quality, among other benefits, said Kasey Taylor, Delaware State Conservationist. “Our conservation planners are committed to working with landowners to restore and protect wetlands across the entire state.”
WRE applicants must have farm records established with USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the land should have been owned for two years. Properties eligible for WRE include farmed wetlands that can be successfully and economically restored; former or degraded wetlands with a history of agricultural use; wetlands farmed under natural conditions; and “prior-converted” cropland converted on or before December 23, 1985. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land established with trees may also be eligible for enrollment through a waiver process.
Landowners have two options under WRE:
• Permanent Easements – NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
• 30-Year Easements – NRCS pays the landowner 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement and 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
A Landowner’s Guide to ACEP: Wetland Reserve Easements provides a detailed overview of the program and enrollment process and is available online here. Applications for ACEP Wetlands Reserve Easement are available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
Learn more about ACEP and other Farm Bill programs at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov. Or, call your USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3.
–Dastina Wallace, USDA, NRCS