ANNAPOLIS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program.

The 2018 Farm Bill has provided the NRCS with technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, land trusts, state and local governments and other groups protect valuable lands, according to a news release.

The easement program focuses on restoring and protecting wetlands as well as conserving productive agricultural lands and grasslands.

The Wetland Reserve Easement component provides landowners compensation for enrolling their farmed or converted wetlands in easements and restoring the land in a cost-effective manner.

The Agricultural Land Easement component works with eligible partners to prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production.

Easement applications may be submitted at any time to NRCS; however, applications for the current funding round must be submitted on or before March 5. Applications are available at your local USDA Service Center and at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.

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