USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), created in the 2014 Farm Bill is the newest version of the previously authorized Wetlands Reserve Program. Under ACEP WRE, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical support to private landowners and Indian tribes to protect, enhance, or restore wetlands. A wetland reserve easement is used to accomplish this protection.
Eligible land must be agricultural, and may be an existing wetland or prior farmed or converted wetlands which could be restored.
Agricultural land which is not wetland or prior converted wetlands may still be eligible for ACEP’s other component program: Agricultural Land Easement. Information on this component of ACEP can be found on the program website listed below.
Landowners will receive a payment for the value of the easement as well as financial assistance for wetland restoration costs. NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement. There are three main enrollment options with varying contract lengths and financial assistance percentages:
- Permanent easements where the landowner is paid 100% of the value of the easement and between 75% and 100% of wetland restoration costs
- 30-year easements where the landowner is paid 50% to 75% of the easement value and between 50% and 75% of wetland restoration costs
- 30-year contracts designed for use by Indian tribes but otherwise are similar to 30-year easements
- Term easements for use where a state law limits or otherwise regulates the duration of a contract.
- Texas law on conservation easements can be found in the Texas Statutes:Natural Resources Code