NB_300_21_13 - NB 300-21-13 LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)
NB 300-21-13 LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)
National Bulletin: 300-21-13 Date: December 22, 2020 
Subject: LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG).


Action Required By:   September 27, 2021  
 
Purpose.   To provide guidance and directions to State conservationists for submitting accurate and current geospatial boundaries and attributes for all closed stewardship lands, nonstewardship lands, and 30-year contracts to the National Easement Geodatabase (NEG). 
 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2021  
 

Background.   NRCS, on behalf of USDA and the Commodity Credit Corporation, holds and/or administers more than 23,000 conservation easements covering over 4.9 million acres under its easement program authorities.  

To best assess and manage the easement interests, the Easement Programs Division (EPD) implements remote sensing capabilities through the annual acquisition of high-resolution aerial photography for monitoring conservation easements.  The geospatial boundaries maintained in the NEG are the dataset that determines the requirements for the location and extent of aerial photography flight planning and acquisition. The geospatial boundaries and attributes for all conservation easements must be continuously collected to ensure the quality and timeliness of the data in the NEG. 

The following tables list all categories of NRCS easements that must be maintained in the NEG:

NRCS Stewardship Lands

PROGRAM

ENROLLMENT TYPE

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Wetland Reserve Easements (ACRP-WRE)

All easements (including RCPP)

Emergency Wetlands Reserve Program (EWRP)

All easements

Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE)

All easements

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)

All easements enrolled in FY 2006-2008 and any easement with the United States as grantee

Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

All easements held by the United States

Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

All easements (including RCPP)

Other Stewardship Lands (OSL)

All easements

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

All easements


NRCS Nonstewardship Lands

PROGRAM

ENROLLMENT TYPE

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program- Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE)

All easements (including RCPP)

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Wetland Reserve Easements (ACRP-WRE)

30-year contracts  (including RCPP)

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)*

All easements held by eligible entities where the United States is not a grantee (except those enrolled in 2006-2008, which are considered stewardship lands)

Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

All easements held by eligible entities

Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

30-year contracts (including RCPP)

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

30-year contracts

 

*Note – FRPP also includes the predecessor program Farmland Protection Program (FPP)      

 
Explanation.   High-resolution aerial imagery helps strengthen the integrity of conservation easement monitoring.  High-resolution imagery and the current easements geodatabase are available through the GeoObserver, a web-based application at https://geoobserver.sc.egov.usda.gov/easements/ or through an ArcGIS Server site that can be added to an ArcGIS session at http://geodata.sc.egov.usda.gov/arcgis/services.

 

States must checkout the file geodatabase to add new easement boundaries and to upload updated easement boundary geometry or attributes approved though EPD.  The file geodatabase contains domains in appropriate fields.  This accelerates the data entry process and improves the integrity of NEG.  The “Instructions for Digitizing and Transmitting Easement Boundaries to the Geospatial Enterprise Operations Branch (GEO), Fort Worth, TX,” December, 2020, are attached to this bulletin—current updates to the guide will be included with the easement checkout email notifications.  The “No Overlap” topology rule will no longer be included with each checkout.  These rules no longer need to be run to enter easement boundaries into the NEG.  The GEO Branch will run the topology rule after all checkouts have been received. The results will be documented for further investigation and due diligence by EPD as to the reason for the overlap and correction to the national easement boundary layer. We want to avoid the possibility of corrupting correct easement boundary data.  Easement boundaries will only be accepted through this checkout/check-in system. Please only update the checkout with new polygons (geometry and/or attributes).  For all modified/updated polygons (geometry and/or attributes), these must be approved by EPD along with the reason for the modification/update prior to updating the checkout.  GEO, Fort Worth will generate quarterly checkouts for quarters 2-4 for States to add new easement boundaries geometry or attributes during the fiscal year. Each quarterly State checkout will only include NEST data as of the end of the previous quarter. For 2021, the schedule is as follows:

 

 

FY2020

Quarter

Date Range

Checkouts Available

Check In Deadline

1

October 1 to December 31

November 1

January 1

2

January 1 to March 31

February 1

April 1

3

April 1 to June 30

May 1

July 1

4

July 1 to September 30

August 1

September 30*

 

*Easement boundaries submitted to the NEG by September 30, 2021 will be included in FY 2022 flight planning.

 

For easement boundaries to be successfully uploaded to the NEG, easements must have a closing date entered in the National Easement Staging Tool (NEST).  States must have received a quarterly checkout from GEO, Fort Worth to upload new easement boundaries or updated easement boundaries approved by EPD.  Geospatial easement boundary data are to be submitted by States for the fiscal year based on the above table.  This submission will ensure that the agency has the most current easement boundary data available.  Check-in location is in the following folder on the shared network drive:  \\aiomokcc3fp226\inbound_GEO\Easements\Incoming_Check-ins

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Boundaries for FRPP easements are required for parcels acquired under cooperative agreements in FY 2006, FY 2007, and FY 2008.  Parcels acquired with funds during these program years were required to have USDA or the United States as a grantee on the easement deed; therefore, they are considered stewardship lands of the United States. Please continue to include all OSLs into the NEG, as they are also stewardship lands of the United States.  Nonstewardship FRPP, GRP, and ACEP-ALE easements that list the entity and as the grantee and do not list the United States as the grantee on the deed are also a mandatory part of this request.  States that have nonstewardship FRPP, GRP, and ACEP-ALE boundaries are required to upload them to the NEG.

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Restoration cost-share agreements (RCSAs) should not be included in the NEG.  Ingress and egress corridors continue not to be included in the NEG at this time. However, these boundaries will be requested in the near future to be included in the geodatabase.

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Please note that all legacy data must remain in the NEG—do not remove any legacy data.  For RCSA projects, ingress or egress corridors, and other errors previously submitted, mark their status as “Do Not Fly (DNF)” in the nonstewardship dataset provided in the NEG.  All stewardship and nonstewardship  FRPP, GRP, and ACEP-ALE lands will be flown.  Do not mark any of these conservation easements as “DNF.”   

 
Contact.   Questions regarding the database download, its contents, or returning it to GEO, Fort Worth may be directed to Laura Davenport-Wade at laura.davenport@usda.gov. Questions regarding this bulletin may be directed to Greg Pipkin at greg.pipkin@usda.gov.    
 
 

 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs
 
Attachment – Instructions for Digitizing and Transmitting Easement Boundaries to the Geospatial Enterprise Operations Branch (GEO)   
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