CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ivan Dozier, Illinois state conservationist, announced the application period for the fiscal year 2023 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program — Wetland Reserve Easements.
The purpose of the WRE program is to help landowners enhance and protect habitat for wetland wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, provide outdoor recreation and increase habitat for migratory waterfowl.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service wants landowners and farmers to know that “the first application cut-off date for fiscal year 2023 has been established,” Dozier said.
“We accept applications for WRE year-round. Applications NRCS receives that meet program eligibility by Dec. 23, 2022, will be the first to be considered for funding in our 2023 program.”
According to Dozier, land eligible for WRE includes farmed or converted wetlands previously altered for agricultural production that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.
NRCS prioritizes applications based on the easement’s potential for improving water quality and protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
To enroll land through this program, NRCS enters into an agreement with eligible private landowners to secure an easement on their property.
Working with landowners, NRCS also develops a wetland restoration plan to restore, enhance, and protect wetland functions and values on their easement acres. NRCS works with the landowner on every step of the acquisition and restoration process.
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in either a permanent or a 30-year easement.
Applications for ACEP-WRE are continuous and can be submitted at any time. For FY 2023, Illinois NRCS has received $3.5million in funding.
To apply for a wetland easement through ACEP-WRE, visit NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.
Find more information about ACEP and other NRCS conservation programs in Illinois on the new IL NRCS website at www.il.nrcs.usda.gov.