Protect Your Land - FIC

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Protect Your Land

Learn about agricultural conservation easements and opportunities to partner with federal, state and local entities to avert development and ensure your land is available for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
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1. ACEs
2. Land Trusts
3. PACE Programs
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Protect Your Land

Agricultural Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are deed restrictions landowners voluntarily place on their property to protect important natural and cultural resources by limiting certain activities and uses. Agricultural conservation easements (ACEs) are a type of conservation easement designed to keep land available for farming and ranching. ACEs enable landowners to sell or donate some property rights while keeping others. Landowners have the right to use, control, transfer, enjoy, and exclude others from their land, subject to federal, state, and local laws. Landowners use ACEs to grant the right to limit use of the property to an easement holder. The ACE refers to landowners as “grantors” and identifies the easement holders—land trusts or public agencies—as “grantees.”

Granting an ACE to an easement holder is a type of real estate transaction. Once drafted and signed, the ACE is recorded in the land records. The easement “runs with the land,” meaning it remains in effect after the land changes owners. The public agency or land trust then holds the easement and monitors and enforces the terms included in the easement to ensure they are upheld over time.

Land Trusts

A land trust is a private, nonprofit organization that protects natural resources such as productive farm and forest land, watersheds, rivers and streams, and recreational areas. Land trusts acquire land and/or conservation easements, accept donated land and/or easements, facilitate land protection projects, and steward properties and easements to ensure that the conservation purposes are upheld over time.

Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement Programs

PACE programs pay property owners to keep productive land available for agriculture. PACE is known as purchase of development rights (PDR) in many locations. Landowners voluntarily sell agricultural conservation easements to public entities to prevent it from being converted to other uses. After selling an easement, the landowner retains other rights of ownership including the right to farm the land, prevent trespass, sell, bequeath or otherwise transfer the land.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to conserve and protect farm and ranch lands, grasslands, and wetlands. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component (ALE), NRCS partners with eligible entities—Indian tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations—to buy agricultural conservation easements on working agricultural lands. It keeps land available for agriculture and limits non-farm development.

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