WASHINGTON — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is extending the deadline to March 20, 2020, to submit public comments on its interim rule for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). NRCS is asking for public feedback on two additional questions and made several clarifying changes to the rule preamble.
In the updated rule , NRCS:
- Asked whether the Healthy Forest Reserve Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program should be used primarily to help protect agricultural lands with forest lands that are beyond what is eligible for enrollment as an ACEP Agricultural Land Easement;
- Asked for input on streamlining access to ACEP and ranking criteria for applications for the program;
- Corrected the docket number and URL to view a copy of the Environmental Assessment;
- Clarified that the revised definition for “wetland restoration” can be found under §1468.3 of the interim rule and the definition of “wetland restoration” in the Jan. 6, 2020, preamble was the prior definition.
NRCS invites comments on this interim rule through March 20 on the Federal Register . Electronic comments must be submitted through regulations.gov under Docket ID NRCS-2019-0006. All written comments received also will be publicly available on regulations.gov.
NRCS will evaluate public comments to determine whether additional changes are needed to the regulation. The agency plans on publishing a final rule following its review of the public comments.
Applying for ACEP
ACEP aids landowners and eligible entities with conserving, restoring, and protecting wetlands, productive agricultural lands, and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment periods that are set locally.
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