Wetland Reserve Easements

About the ACEP-WRE Program

Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) are a program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

Athens Land Trust, in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is working to assist Historically Underserved farmers interested in the ACEP-WRE program to clear title and restore wetlands impacted by agriculture.


The Wetland Reserve Easements component of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program provides habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; improves water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals; reduces flooding; recharges groundwater; protects biological diversity; provides resilience to climate change; and provides opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.

What land is eligible?

Land eligible for wetland reserve easements includes privately held farmed or converted wetlands that were previously degraded due to agricultural uses and can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. 

NRCS will prioritize applications based on the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

How does it work?

To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners 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.

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.

Title and Legal Assistance

Athens Land Trust will work to connect Historically Underserved Landowners without clean title to legal assistance and funding to clear up title encumbrances and heirs property problems in order for landowners to become eligible and access this and other NRCS programs.

I want to apply

Athens Land Trust is both a qualified organization to receive Conservation Easement donations, but is also accredited by the National Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Interested and eligible landowners can apply to the NRCS ACEP-WRE Program through our office.

Contact us at conservation@athenslandtrust.org or call 706-613-0122 for more information.