Monarch Conservation Toolbox

Incentive Programs

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) | United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Country
United States

Region
Midwest

Land Use / Land Cover
General Agriculture

Agency Type
Federal

Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
Monarchs

Publication Type
Report, Website/web hub

Original Language
English

Years of Implementation
Ongoing

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) was a USDA NRCS program that has since been replaced with the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Existing WRP contracts are unaffected (they are still valid but will be managed under ACEP regulations), and practices may be implemented on existing WRP lands using remaining WRP funds or new ACEP funds, or on new ACEP lands. Enrollment is based on funding availability (USDA NRCS 2015a; USDA NRCS 2015b). The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project, which targets incentive programs, including the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program in the Midwest subregion, is emphasizing practices such as prescribed burning, disking and planting (milkweed and nectar plants). Specific funding in FY2016 is allocated for monarch habitat projects on existing WRP lands (USDA NRCS 2015a).

ACEP easements include those for agricultural lands and wetlands. NRCS provides direct financial payments and technical assistance to landowners. Wetlands reserve easements may be permanent (NRCS payment of 100% of the value and 75–100% of restoration costs) or 30-year/term (NRCS payment of 50–75% of the value and 50–75% of restoration costs). Easement fees (recording, abstracts, survey, appraisal and title insurance) are also covered by NRCS. Landowners and lands must also meet certain eligibility requirements. Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) consists of agreements between NRCS and partners to complete restoration projects and can leverage funding, monitoring and technical assistance (USDA NRCS 2015c).

NRCS (2015a) has outlined specific National Conservation Practices, including “Core” practices like Conservation Cover (327), Prescribed Burning (338) and Early Successional Habitat Development/Management (647), that have the greatest potential to develop monarch habitat in the Midwest.

Amount of the Incentive
WRP easements cover 100% of implementation cost. ACEP wetland reserve easements may be permanent (NRCS payment of 100% of the value and between 75-100% of restoration costs) or 30-year, term (NRCS payment of 50–75% of the value and 50–75% of restoration costs). Easement fees (recording, abstracts, survey, appraisal and title insurance) are also covered by NRCS.

Related Institutional Objectives or Targets
Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project, US Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill)

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