Cover photo for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: Wetland Reserve Easements

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: Wetland Reserve Easements

Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

**Benefits: ** Wetland Reserve Easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

**Related Programs: ** ACEP also provides Easements to protect Agricultural Land through the ACEP Agricultural Land Easement Program, and additional wetland protection through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership.


Eligible Landowners

  • Owners of privately held land including land that is held by American Indian tribes.

  • All landowners, including required members of landowner-legal entities, must meet adjusted gross income (AGI) limitations and must be compliant with the HEL/WC provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.

Eligible Land

  1. Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes privately held farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.


To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners or Indian tribes that include the right for NRCS to develop and implement a Wetland Reserve Plan of Operations (WRPO). This plan will detail practices to help restore, protect and enhance the wetlands functions and values.

Wetland Reserve enrollment options include:

  • Permanent Easements – Permanent easements are conservation easements in perpetuity. NRCS pays 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 75 to 100 percent of the restoration costs.

  • **30-year Easements **– 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs. 

  • Term Easements - Term easements are easements that are for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State laws. NRCS pays 50 to 75 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the term easement. Additionally, NRCS pays between 50 to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

  • 30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements.

For all Wetland Reserve Easements options, NRCS pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees and title insurance.

Application Instructions

Landowners - to learn more about both ALE and WRE, contact your local NRCS office. An NRCS conservationist will visit you and evaluate your land to help you determine eligibility for the various components of ACEP. If your land is eligible for ALE and you are looking for an eligible entity to hold your conservation easement; please visit

Eligible Entities - to learn more about Agricultural Land Easements, please contact your NRCS state office programs staff to inquire about how you can partner with NRCS to enroll conservation easements on eligible land.

Updated March 22, 2024

Image Credit: BLM Oregon & Washington

This information was gathered from public sources. Ambrook is not responsible for or able to affect the results of any financial programs listed, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed or is on the hyperlinked external sites. All information is subject to change.

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