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Restore wetlands and preserve agricultural land with NRCS funding

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources

Conservation Service (NRCS) has $3.9 million available to help Ohio landowners restore wetlands and $4 million available for easements to protect agricultural land from conversion to non-agricultural uses. The funding is part of a $350 million national effort by USDA to protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands, and wetlands through NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

Last year, Ohio landowners restored 1,033 acres of wetlands through ACEP. Landowners received between $1,375 and $6,600 per acre in exchange for permanent easements to protect wetlands, depending on the location of the wetland. They can also choose a 30-year easement option at a reduced rate.

Wetlands are areas saturated by water all or most of the year. Often called “nature’s kidneys,” wetlands naturally filter contaminants out of water. Wetlands also recharge groundwater; reduce flooding and soil erosion; support diverse populations of wildlife, plants, and fish; improve aesthetics; and offer recreational opportunities. Since 2005, NRCS assisted Ohio landowners in restoring more than 25,000 acres of wetlands.

Agriculture land easements are designed to protect active working farms through an agreement with NRCS and a cooperating entity, such as your local Soil and Water Conservation District or Land Trust. Landowners work directly with the entity to secure easements, forever preventing development and subdivision while preserving agriculture use for future generations.

ACEP applications are accepted year around, but you must apply by Wednesday, February 1, 2017, to be eligible for the current allotment of funding. Interested landowners should schedule an appointment with the NRCS office in their county’s USDA Service Center.

To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit Get Started with NRCS or your local USDA Service Center.

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