USDA NRCS Announces Nearly $5 Million Funding Availability to Protect and Restore Key Farmlands, Grasslands, and Wetlands in Tennessee Voluntary Assistance Offered through ACEP Easements
NASHVILLE, October 17, 2016 – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Tennessee State Conservationist Kevin Brown announced the availability of approximately $5 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands, and wetlands across Tennessee.
The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)—created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private landowners to maintain land for farming and ranching. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.
“The benefits of restoring, enhancing, and protecting these working agricultural lands and critical wetlands cannot be overstated,” Brown said. “NRCS is committed to preserving working agricultural lands to help protect the long-term viability of farming across the state as well as to restoring and protecting vital sensitive wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve water quality.”
ACEP's agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation's food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces. Native American Tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS to purchase conservation easements.
Wetland reserve easements allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance, and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.
In FY 2014 and FY 2015, NRCS invested more than $3.5 million in ACEP funding to help Tennessee landowners engage in voluntary conservation to provide long-term protection of an estimated 2,000 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through more than 16 new easements.
The deadline to sign up for ACEP is Friday, December 2, 2016. Gibson County landowners may visit their local field office at 1252 Manufacturers Row, Trenton, to sign up for this program. To learn more about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance through NRCS Conservation programs visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/tn/home/.
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