Landowners may apply for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Applications meeting eligibility requirements received by Dec. 10 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2022, according to Ivan Dozier, state conservationist.

For FY 2022, Illinois NRCS received $3.8 million for eligible ACEP-WRE applicants.

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 an 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 purchase agreements with eligible private landowners and then they work together to develop and implement a wetland reserve plan to guide the restoration easement process. This plan restores, enhances and protects the wetland’s functions and values.

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 easement or a 30-year easement.

While applications for ACEP-WRE are continuous and may be submitted at any time, only those submitted by the December deadline will be considered for FY 2022 funding.

To apply for a wetland easement through ACEP - WRE, contact NRCS to set up an appointment at your local USDA Service Center.