INDIANAPOLIS — NRCS and private landowners have partnered to protect more than 5 million acres of wetlands, grasslands and prime farmlands — an area the size of New Jersey. In Indiana, NRCS has enrolled 81,222 acres, helping achieve this important conservation milestone.
“Indiana’s farmers and private landowners are critical to conserving our nation’s natural resources for future generations,” said Jerry Raynor, NRCS State Conservationist in Indiana. “We want to celebrate their efforts in helping us protect sensitive lands, support wildlife and confront challenges like climate change.”
NRCS has offered conservation easements through the Farm Bill for 28 years, including programs like the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which helps landowners, land trusts and other entities protect, restore and enhance wetlands, grasslands and working farms through conservation easements. These programs benefit participants and the American public by creating cleaner air, water and open spaces.
Wetland easements — totaling over 2.8 million acres nationwide — improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reducing flooding, recharging groundwater, protecting biological diversity and providing opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.
Wetland easements are also crucial to wildlife and are credited for the recovery of the Least Tern, Indiana Bat, Crawfish frog and Blandings Turtle in Indiana. In addition, Whooping cranes and Sandhill cranes can be spotted throughout Indiana as they rely on wetland easements on their cross-country treks and for raising young.
Agricultural Land Easements
Agricultural land easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. These easements have been crucial to protecting farmsteads from urban encroachment, ensuring the most productive lands remain working lands. Easements also can be used to protect floodplains, grasslands and forests, providing public benefits, including carbon sequestration, water quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.
Carbon Sequestration and Easements
Working with private landowners to preserve and restore wetlands, grasslands, forests and farmlands is integral to USDA’s efforts to build resiliency and reduce the impacts of climate change across the nation. Easements protect sensitive lands from development in perpetuity, and landowners can partner with NRCS to implement voluntary climate-smart management practices that maximize the amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in soils or plant biomass across these landscapes.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new income streams for farmers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA to pursue a coordinated approach alongside stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments.
Enroll in Easements
To learn more about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact your District Conservationist by visiting: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.
For more information about easements in Indiana, visit: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/in/programs/easements/.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
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