NB_300_21_48 - NB 300-21-48 LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)
NB 300-21-48 LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)
National Bulletin: 300-21-48 Date: August 18, 2021 
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).
(Note: This bulletin supersedes NB300-21-13 and provides updates on the flight planning data cut-off date to 8/20/21, reflect FPAC-GEO instead of NGCE, and updated the server name for States to upload easement boundaries to the NEG.)     
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2021  
 
Background.   NRCS, on behalf of USDA and the Commodity Credit Corporation, owns and administers more than 23,000 conservation easements covering over 5 million acres under its easement program authorities.  Easements acquired through the various NRCS easement programs are characterized as stewardship or nonstewardship lands based on the interests acquired by the United States. 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

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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)

**Note – Nonstewardship lands to be monitored in accordance with the stewardship land requirements.

 

 

Pursuant to current policy (Programs Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 527, Subpart P, “Monitoring” and Subpart Q, “Condition”), NRCS must monitor all stewardship land easements and 30-year contracts on an annual basis.  NRCS must monitor all nonstewardship GRP easements at least once in five fiscal years. The nonstewardship ACEP-ALE and FRPP easements are only monitored if NRCS must exercise its contingent right of enforcement or to review highly erodible cropland plans.

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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.         

 
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. The imagery will also be available in CD. 

 

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 to accelerate the data entry process and improve the integrity of NEG.  The “Instructions for Digitizing and Transmitting Easement Boundaries to the Geospatial Enterprise Operations Branch (GEO), Fort Worth, TX,” July 2021, are attached to this bulletin. Updates to the guide will be included with the easement checkout email notifications.  Topology rules are included with each checkout.  Please do not move vertices of a new boundary to fit with an older boundary. Further investigation is required related to the overlap.  We do not want to corrupt correct boundary data.  Edits will only be accepted through this checkout/check-in system.  GEO, Fort Worth generates quarterly checkouts for States to add new easement boundaries and to update and correct existing easement boundary geometry or attributes during the fiscal year.  Each quarterly State checkout will only include National Easement Staging Tool (NEST) data as of the end of the previous quarter.  For the remaining fiscal year (FY) 2021, the schedule is as follows:

 

 

FY2021

Quarter

Date Range

Checkouts Available

Check In Deadline

4 – Flight Planning

July 1 to August 20

August 1

August 20*

4 – End of Fiscal Year

July 1 to September 30

August 1

September 30

 

*Easement boundaries submitted to the NEG by August 20, 2021 will be included in FY 2022 flight planning boundary dataset.

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For easement boundaries to be successfully uploaded to the NEG, easements must have a closing date entered in the NEST.  States must have received a quarterly checkout from GEO, Fort Worth to upload new or updated easement boundaries.  States must submit geospatial easement boundary data for the fiscal year based on the above table.  This submission will ensure 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 are required for FRPP easements 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.  

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Nonstewardship FRPP, GRP, and ACEP-ALE easements, which are easements that do not list the United States as a grantee on the deed are also a mandatory part of the NEG.  ALL nonstewardship FRPP, GRP, and ACEP-ALE boundaries are required to upload them to the NEG.

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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. Restoration cost-share agreements (RCSAs) should not be included in the NEG. 

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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 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), Fort Worth, TX    
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