USDA funding available to help Ohio wetlands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has opened enrollment for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Wetlands Reserve Easement Program (ACEP-WRE). The program provides financial and technical assistance to Ohio landowners wishing to protect and restore critical wetlands by enrolling property into conservation easements. Applications for ACEP-WRE are taken on a continuous basis. The deadline to receive fiscal year 2022 funding is Feb. 18, 2022.

Many of Ohio’s landowners can take advantage of this program, as eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored; croplands or grasslands subject to flooding; and previously restored wetlands and riparian areas that connect protected wetland areas. Since 2005, NRCS has worked with landowners to restore more than 25,000 acres of wetlands in Ohio. 

“For over 25 years, NRCS has been working with private landowners to protect and restore wetlands through wetland easement programs,” said Barbara Baker, Assistant State Conservationist for Natural Resources in Ohio. “These wetlands serve as valuable wildlife habitat, reduce flooding, and improve water quality.”

ACEP-WRE enrollment options include permanent easements, 30-year easements, and 30-year contracts. NRCS staff are available to help landowners plan and implement individual projects and the agency will pay a percent of the purchase value as well as restoration costs for each easement option.

State Technical Committees work with NRCS to identify resource priorities and how best to address them. NRCS then sets state-specific ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding that account for producer needs, staff workload and ensure potential participants have ample opportunities to apply.

Find Ohio’s ranking dates for ACEP-WRE and other conservation programs atwww.nrcs.usda.gov/staterankingdates/. For more information, please visit ACEP-WRE in Ohio or contact Michael Hasty, Ohio ACEP-WRE easement coordinator, at 614-255-2442 or michael.hasty@usda.gov.

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