Conservation easements available

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Oregon is offering easement programs to help private landowners, state and local governments, Indian tribes and non-profit groups protect Oregon’s working agricultural lands and wetlands for future generations.

NRCS is accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Applications must be submitted by April 19.

NRCS will rank applications based on identified natural resource concerns and priority areas throughout the state. Easement priority areas in Oregon include critical water bird habitat, Coho and steelhead salmon habitat, sage grouse habitat, grasslands and more.

“The ACEP is an exciting opportunity for private landowners and conservation partners to ensure the long-term protection and vitality of Oregon’s wetlands and working agricultural lands,” said Oregon State conservationist Ron Alvarado. “We encourage state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, Indian tribes and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to see how our easement programs can help them achieve long-term natural resources goals.”

Through the ACEP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to secure easements for both working agricultural lands (ALE) and wetlands (WRE).

Under the ALE component, NRCS provides funds to eligible entities (such as non-profit conservation groups) to purchase permanent easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of the land. These easements prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses, keeping the land in agriculture for future generations. They support and maximize protection of land devoted to food and fiber production, including cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and non-industrial private forestland.

Under the WRE component, NRCS provides funding directly to private landowners for the purchase of a 30-year or permanent easements and for wetland restoration activities. These easements restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat for a variety of fish, migratory birds and other wildlife.

WRE projects also improve water quality, reduce flood damage and encourage outdoor education and recreation. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored.

Visit https://go.usa.gov/xE6aS for more information.

To find a local NRCS office, visit www.or.nrcs.usda.gov and view the “Contact Us” tab.

Miniature Literature Libro Llamas go to states

The Azalea Middle School Miniature Literature Libro Llamas, the local Battle of the Books team, attended the Oregon championships at Chemeketa Community College April 6, making it into bracket play by placing in the top 16 in open play before losing in their bracket.

Brookings-Harbor District Librarian Patricia Clark said she and Library Manager Gloria Sthen “were extremely proud of them and how well they represented Brookings-Harbor School District.”

Team members met Oregon author Melissa Hart, who wrote “Avenging the Owl,” one of the books they read for the competition this year.

Clark and Sthen got each team member a personal copy so Hart could sign them. Hart was also scorekeeper for one of their battles and took a picture with the team.

—Curry Pilot

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