DOVER, Del. — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service celebrated the protection of 43,000 acres of agricultural lands and wetlands through 302 easements during a 25th anniversary easement event yesterday in Bridgeville, Del.
Twenty-five years ago, the USDA NRCS began offering easement programs nationwide. Programs such as the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program help landowners restore, maintain or enhance their land to benefit the environment and future generations.
“Preservation is critical because we need farmland to grow the local food and fiber that we all depend upon,” said Delaware State Conservationist Kasey Taylor. “We need wetlands restored and preserved for clean water, recreation, wildlife habitat and so much more. Preservation matters here in Delaware and across the country.”
Onsite at T.S. Smith and Sons’ farm, NRCS also celebrated their key partners, including the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which have played a critical role in protecting the state’s wetlands and working farms.
T.S. Smith and Sons have approximately 180 acres enrolled in farmland and wetland conservation easements on their operation.
“Preserving our farm will provide us with years of future use in the ag industry. Whereas, if we didn’t, there’s just no guarantee,” said Matt Smith, co-owner of T.S. Smith and Sons.
Agricultural land makes up 40 percent of all land in Delaware. NRCS is one of many entities with an interest in preserving agricultural and wetlands within the state. In total, more than 127,000 acres of Delaware farmland are now permanently preserved.
Easements geared toward agricultural land protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses.
Wetland restoration easements produce wide-ranging benefits including more habitat for fish and wildlife, less flooding, more educational and recreational activities, among others.
Nationally during the past 25 years, NRCS has enrolled more than 22,000 easements covering more than 4.4 million acres. NRCS and partners have collectively invested $4.3 billion in technical and financial assistance.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service