Richland County has a double legacy when it comes to the land it occupies.
The name “Richland” itself was given in testament to the natural resources of this part of Ohio. From north to south, the county boasts an extraordinary variety of terrain and ecosystems.
Another strong focus on the land comes from being the home of noted author and agriculturalist Louis Bromfield. The scion of Malabar Farm was focused on maximing the possibilities of natural farming.
Private property owners can help keep these legacies alive through the sale of a conservation easement through the Agriculatural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
Fueled by $77 million in financial assistance for working land protection given by the US Depratment of Agriculture, ACEP provides funds to partners to purchase conservation easements on private land. This program keeps agricultural viaility in areas experiencing development pressure.
“This valuable program helps keep working lands working,” said John Wilson, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Ohio. “Easements are an important tool for people who want to preserve the land for future generations.”
Through the program, landowners continue to own their property, but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. Landowners do not apply directly for funding under this program. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Last year, partners protected over 4,500 acres of important agricultural land.
Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland, and forestlands. Ohio partners include state or local agencies, and non-profits. Applications are accepted continuously, however the application deadline for fiscal year 2021 funding is March 12. Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered in FY 2022.
Richland County landowners interested in agricultural easements should contact the Mansfield office of the USDA Service Center at 419-747-8691.