[Article] Land Trust can help preserve farms

From Weekly Currents

The Logan County Land Trust (LCLT) will begin the process of selecting interested landowners who meet the qualifications for the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) through Feb. 15, 2016. If interested in learning to maintain your farm for future generations and to protect the beautiful landscapes of Logan County this may be a meeting that you will want to attend.

The Land Trust will host a public meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Logan County Electric Cooperative Building at 1587 County Road 32 North, Bellefontaine. Interested landowners are asked to RSVP with Bob Stoll – LCLT at 937-935-7505 or Louise Dunham LCLT- at 937-407-4062 before Nov. 6.

The Logan County Land Trust directors will be the featured speakers and will detail program requirements, easement terms and protections, the application process and timeline, and funding available. There will be current Logan County easement holders at this meeting who will talk about their experience placing easements on their land. ODA’s and LCLT’s donation programs will also be covered. The speakers and LCLT Board members will be available after the presentations to individually answer questions landowners may have. There will be light refreshments provided.

The LCLT will complete a precertification scoring of qualified applicants. The LCLT will select the landowners with the highest precertification scores and aid them in completing applications to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and USDA NRCS for the purchase of their agricultural easement. The deadline for submitting completed applications to ODA and USDA NRCS is April 15, 2016.

Landowners interested in inquiring about or applying to the programs and who are unable to attend the public meeting are asked to contact Bob Stoll or Louise Dunham at the above mentioned phone numbers prior to Dec. 1.

Landowners who want to apply for an agricultural easement must complete and file an “Intent to Apply” form with the LCLT on or before Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. Forms will be made available at the public meeting or by contacting Mr. Stoll or Ms. Dunham.

The LAEPP and ACEP programs allow landowners to voluntarily sell easements on their farms to the state and USDA. The easement requires the farm remain permanently in agricultural production. Selected farms must be actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program, demonstrated good stewardship of the land, have support from local government and not be in close proximity to development. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operation.

The Logan County Land Trust is a local nonprofit organization that works with private landowners to preserve agricultural and natural land in Logan County and surrounding areas. The landowners continue to own and manage their land, and can sell it or pass it on to their heirs. No matter who owns the land, though, a permanent conservation easement will assure that conservation values remain protected – prime and productive soils, water resources, and high quality habitat.

For more information on both programs go to www.agri.ohio.gov/farmland and www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/easements/farmranch.

If you have questions please contact Bob Stoll – LCLT @ 937-935-7505 or Louise Dunham LCLT @ 937-407-4062 or Doug Ritchey, LCLT board member at 937-407-1214.