NB_440_21_6 - NB 440-21-6 PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Easement Compensation Package Submittal for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE)
NB 440-21-6 PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Easement Compensation Package Submittal for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE)
National Bulletin: 440-21-6   Date: November 17, 2020  
Subject: PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Easement Compensation Package Submittal for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE)

Purpose.   To provide guidance regarding the submittal of the FY 2021 Easement Compensation Packages for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE).   
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2021  
Background.   As set forth in national ACEP policy 440 Conservation Program Manual (CPM) Parts 528.10(G)(3) and 528.122, each fiscal year the State conservationist must submit an easement compensation proposal package for ACEP-WRE that includes a discussion of the approaches that will be used to determine fair market values (areawide market analysis (AWMA), individual appraisals, or a combination), copies of any AWMA reports, the proposed geographic area rate caps (GARCs), and the supporting GARC rationale documentation. The proposal must be submitted to the EPD director for final concurrence and States must have written approval from the EPD Director prior to issuing offers of enrollment and executing enrollment agreements (Agreements to Purchase).

As set forth in 440 CPM 528.122(A), only one method may be used to determine the fair market value (FMV) of the offered area. When the characteristics of the land are homogenous enough to provide FMVs applicable to the land uses and types in the identified market area and enough enrollment numbers are anticipated, the AWMA is the preferred method to determine FMV. States that will use an AWMA as a method to determine the FMV must follow the guidance issued in National Bulletin 440-20-31 with respect to procuring the AWMA.

To facilitate the timely and efficient review, this national bulletin provides an updated submission process and timelines that must be followed for the submission of FY 2021 ACEP-WRE easement compensation packages. Packages submitted not following the guidance provided in this bulletin will be returned without review for correction and resubmission.

States that have submitted Easement Compensation Packages to the EPD SharePoint site for approval, pursuant to guidance in National Instruction (NI) 300-303, prior to the publication of this bulletin, do not need to resubmit those packages through the Program Activity Management System (PAMS). Those packages will be processed by EPD and transitioned to PAMS. Until publication of additional guidance, States should submit all Easement Compensation Packages in accordance with this national bulletin rather than NI 300-303.

The easement compensation package will include attachments as described by this bulletin and while attachments A and E include reference to EWPP-FPE, this bulletin is specific to WRE and a subsequent bulletin will be issued to provide guidance for preparing EWPP-FPE packages.

Explanation.   States must prepare their FY 2021 ACEP-WRE Easement Compensation Package in accordance with the policy set forth in 440 CPM 528.122 and as applicable in NB 440-20-31. States should submit such package to EPD for review and approval during the first quarter of FY 2021 in accordance with the applicable submission process as follows:

1. Easement Compensation Package.—States must submit the following documents:
a. Attachment A, “State Easement Compensation Package Submittal Checklist, Certification, and GARC Narrative.” This document provides a checklist for States to identify and document the methods to be used to determine FMVs and the information used in the development of the GARCs. This document is also used to certify the completion of the required reviews by the State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) and State Conservationist. For FY 2021, States are required to use the attached “State Easement Compensation Package Submittal Checklist, Certification, and GARC Narrative”, which will be considered complete when:

• The checklist is signed by the appropriate State Easement staff and the State Conservationist.
• All applicable sections are complete, and all required items are answered according to checklist instructions.
• Each GARC narrative topic is addressed and fully explained.

Note: No other format or document will be accepted as the GARC narrative.

• All identified documents are uploaded consistent with the naming conventions provided.

b. A GARC map or table in portable document format (pdf) that includes the applicable items identified in the “GARC Map” section of Attachment A. Attachment C, “State GARC-Map Example,” is an example of the information that should be provided on the State GARC map.

c. GARC value calculations and appraisal GARC percentage and not-to-exceed (NTE) will be documented using Attachment B, “Attachment B, Easement Compensation Calculations,” spreadsheet. Attachment B is a locked-calculation spreadsheet to improve review efficiency and reduce errors in final GARC value calculation when using AWMA values to establish a GARC.

The spreadsheet provides worksheets to calculate and document AWMA and GARC values, State AWMA value comparison for adjoining States, County GARC value comparison within State, and Appraisal percentage and NTE rate by region. The Guidance and Understanding State, County GARC Value Data Entry and Concept worksheets are provided to explain the data entry concept and each worksheet’s purpose and column information that should be entered. Cell notes are provided to explain data that should be entered into each column or data cell. Hyperlinks provide efficient navigation to Guidance, AWMA and GARC Values, State GARC Value Comparison, County GARC Value Comparison, and Appraisal Percentage by Region worksheets. The State, County GARC value comparison worksheets are optional if the State provides:

• Attachment D, “GARC Values Variation Map Example.”

Attachment D is an example of the information that should be provided on the GARC values variation map or table. The GARC Values Variation Map or table should provide both adjoining County and State value comparisons.

• For FY 2021, if the State has used an alternative spreadsheet that provided similar information as Attachment B, that spreadsheet may be provided. The alternative spreadsheet may only have the same number of worksheets with worksheets in similar format, columns and calculations with same worksheet tab naming convention. No other worksheet will be included in the spreadsheet.

2. Submittal of FY 2021 Easement Compensation Package to EPD.—States will submit their FY 2021 Easement Compensation Package through PAMS within the following timeframes:

• If the State FMV is based on an AWMA, upload Easement Compensation Package materials within 45 days from the date of receipt of an acceptable AWMA report.
• If the State FMV is only based on appraisal, upload within 45 days from the date of the issuance of this national bulletin.

PAMS may be accessed through the URL:  https://usdagcc.sharepoint.com/sites/nrcs_programs/epd/pams/SitePages/GeneralReqManagment.aspx

Note: Additional guidance regarding the use of PAMS will be provided through a future national bulletin.

The package should be saved with all appropriate documents as PDFs (except spreadsheets) and uploaded through a single PAMS request as part of the submission process. The file naming convention for the Easement Compensation Package will be:

a. The completed checklist PDF and associated documents will combine to be: State Abbreviation-FY2021-WRE-Easement Compensation Package. (Easement compensation calculations spreadsheet and comparison map are separate- see c and d on this list.)

b. The AWMA report will be included in the same PAMS upload as separate files from the rest of the Easement Compensation Package PDF document. File naming convention: State Abbreviation-FY2021-WRE-AWMA Report-New or Extension. In the naming convention of the AWMA file please indicate if the AWMA report is new or an extension. If the State FMV is only based on appraisal the AWMA report is not required. Include these items as separate files in the same upload as support for the AWMA:

• Sales data in a spreadsheet format is required to be included with a new AWMA report. File naming convention: State Abbreviation-FY2021-WRE-AWMA-Sales Data.
• Contract award document with AWMA specifications will be included. This document will be provided for either a new or extension AWMA. File naming convention: State Abbreviation-FY2021-WRE-AWMA-Specs-Award.

These documents are necessary to assist in the AMWA report review to ensure that the AWMA product meets the Statement of Work, specifications, and any assignment conditions that were provided by the State or contracting officer.

c. Easement compensation calculations as Attachment B spreadsheet. The file naming convention will be: State Abbreviation-FY2021-WRE-Easement Compensation Calculations.

d. GARC Value Comparison Analysis map as Attachment D. The file naming convention will be: State Abbreviation-FY2021-ACEP-WRE GARC Value Comparison Map. If the State FMV is only based on appraisal or Attachment B provides GARC value comparison than Attachment D would not be provided.

When submitting the Easement Compensation Package in PAMS, choose the request type “AWMA/GARC review” and indicate whether the request is “WRE AWMA GARC Package Review” or “WRE Appraisal Only GARC Package review” in the Request Specifics field.

3. FY 2021 Easement Compensation Package EPD Review.—EPD will document its review through PAMS. The national review should be completed within 60 calendar days from the date of the acceptance of a complete easement compensation package. PAMS will be used for tracking the review, which will proceed as follows:

a. EPD staff will review the State easement compensation package to determine that the submittal is complete. An incomplete submittal will be returned to the State. Attachment E, National Review Complete Package Checklist will be used to review State easement compensation package. EPD staff will notify the State if the easement compensation package is incomplete and the package will be returned. Easement compensation package approval review will not start until a complete package is accepted.

b. For States that will use an AWMA, the National Appraiser staff will review the AWMA for final acceptance by NRCS. The National Appraiser may request the AWMA vendor to make corrections to the AWMA report.

c. The National Appraiser and EPD staff will review all Easement Compensation Packages to ensure that the GARCs are appropriately and adequately supported and documented in the materials submitted in the Easement Compensation Package. The review will be including the GARC dollar values based on the FMVs determined by an AWMA or the GARC percentages and associated NTE rates to be applied to FMVs determined based on individual appraisals.

d. The National Appraiser or EPD staff may request States to provide additional information as needed to complete the review and approval of the Easement Compensation Package. Any corrected, updated, or additional documents must be uploaded to the appropriate Easement Compensation Package Review record in PAMS. The document file name will follow the naming convention described in this bulletin with the word “Revised” added and a sequential number.

Upon approval, EPD will provide an approval letter to the State, attaching the approved ACEP-WRE Easement Compensation Package.  EPD will notify the State and will upload the approval letter, AWMA report, Easement Compensation Package, and all supporting documents to the EPD SharePoint Site under the State folder by going to GARC page -> FY 2021 GARCs -> NHQ Approved FY21 GARC -> State folder.

Contact.   Questions should be directed to Donald Howard, National Appraiser, by phone at
503-414-3260 or by email at don.howard@usda.gov ; and Ken Kriese, National Program Manager Wetland Reserve Easements, by phone at 202-720-1871 or by email at kenneth.kriese@usda.gov.   


Deputy Chief for Programs

Attachment A, Easement Compensation Package Submittal Checklist, Certification, and GARC Narrative

Attachment B, Easement Compensation Calculation Workbook

Attachment C, State GARC-Map Example

Attachment D, GARC Values Variation Map Example

Attachment E, National Review Complete Package Checklist  

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