Funding available to help protect, restore sensitive lands


Staff Reports

State Conservationist Jerry Raynor recently announced Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is making available $8 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.

The funding is provided through the agricultural conservation easement program, created to protect water resources and wildlife habitat and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming.

Eligible entities must submit applications for the current funding pool on or before March 23.

The program streamlines the conservation easement options into two primary components: A wetlands reserve component, where the NRCS works directly with landowners to restore and protect their agricultural wetlands, and a working lands component, where NRCS provides assistance to partners with farmland protection programs to purchase agricultural land 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.

Agricultural land easements not only protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to nonagricultural uses, they also support environmental quality, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and protection of open spaces.

State and local governments, nongovernmental organizations and Native American tribes that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with NRCS and individual landowners to protect farmland through easements.

In Indiana, more than 2,600 acres have been enrolled in the past year. Once restored, these acres will join more than 77,500 acres of additional easements in the state. Many of these easements lie in migratory areas for waterfowl and other birds, such as the Muscatatuck River corridor.

To learn about the program and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS, visit or contact your district conservationist at

For information about easements, visit

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