Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend the deadline to provide public comment on the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s (ACEP) interim rule until May 28.
“We extended the comment period for the ACEP rule to give our partners, landowners, and the public additional time to comment on a rule that will be used to implement USDA’s premier conservation easement program on private agricultural lands,” Weller said.
ACEP is designed to help landowners protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives.
NRCS administers ACEP, a voluntary program created in the 2014 Farm Bill to protect and restore critical wetlands on private and tribal lands through the wetland reserve easement component. ACEP also encourages farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial private forest landowners to keep their private and tribal land in agricultural use through the agricultural land easement component. ACEP also conserves grasslands, including rangeland, pastureland, and shrubland.
The official notice of the proposed ACEP interim rule can be found in the Federal Register. The original deadline date to submit public comments on the ACEP interim rule was Tuesday, April 28. Electronic comments must be submitted through regulations.gov during the 30-day extended comment period. Comments also can be hand carried or mailed to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. NRCS-2014-0011, Regulatory and Agency Policy Team, Strategic Planning and Accountability, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Building 1-1112D, Beltsville, MD 20705.
To learn about ACEP and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA Service Center. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.