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Colorado NRCS Announces NEW Application Signup Cut-Off Date for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE)

Colorado's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Clint Evans recently announced the 2024 application cut-off dates for eligible entities to participate in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE) in Colorado. There is one signup offered for complete and eligible applications to compete for available funding.  Application packages are due on Friday, February 2nd, 2024, by 4:00 PM Mountain Standard Time (MST) for funding general, grasslands of special significance (GSS), GSS Gunnison sage grouse, GSS greater sage grouse, and general urban agriculture projects.

The ACEP-ALE program aims to protect the agricultural viability and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses of that land that negatively affect the agricultural uses and conservation values, and to protect grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring or conserving eligible land.

Applicants (eligible entities) must be a federally recognized Indian Tribe, state or local units of government, or a non-governmental organization. Applicants must have an established farmland protection program that purchases agricultural conservation easements for the purpose of protecting agriculture use and related conservation values by limiting conversion to nonagricultural uses of the land.

USDA provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement in this voluntary program and up to 75 percent for qualifying grasslands of special significance (GSS), including projects in sage grouse territory. The qualified landowner retains ownership and continues to use the land for agricultural purposes.

To be eligible to receive ALE funding, eligible entity applicants must demonstrate a commitment to long-term conservation of agricultural lands; a capability to acquire, manage, and enforce easements; adequate staff capacity for monitoring and easement stewardship; and the availability of funds. All landowners of record and the land being offered for enrollment must also meet specific eligibility criteria as outlined in the application materials posted to the State ACEP website.

Fully completed application packets must be received by no later than 4:00PM MST on an advertised signup date to be considered. Application packets may be sent to the attention of Easements Program Manager, by email (preferred) to laura.trimboli@usda.govby FedEx or UPS to USDA-NRCS, Denver Federal Center, Building 56, Room 2604, Denver, CO 80225; or by USPS to USDA-NRCS, Denver Federal Center, PO Box 25426, Denver, CO 80225. 

Applications postmarked or time stamped after these deadlines WILL NOT be accepted. Only fully completed and properly executed applications that are submitted by these signup dates on the appropriate forms and accompanied by all required supporting documentation will be considered for funding in FY 2024. All qualified applications will be reviewed, ranked, and considered for funding according to the Final ACEP rule, policy, and guidance.  Complete applications received after the cutoff date may be considered if another sign-up date is announced. Incomplete applications WILL NOT be considered.

Source : usda.gov

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