NB_300_21_52 - NB 300-21-52 LTP – Reminders and Final Guidance to States Regarding End of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Easement and Water Bank Program Processes, Timelines, and Cutoff Dates
NB 300-21-52 LTP – Reminders and Final Guidance to States Regarding End of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Easement and Water Bank Program Processes, Timelines, and Cutoff Dates
National Bulletin: 300-21-52 Date: September 8, 2021  
Subject: LTP – Reminders and Final Guidance to States Regarding End of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Easement and Water Bank Program Processes, Timelines, and Cutoff Dates


   
 
Purpose.   To provide States with conservation easements and Water Bank Program reminders and final guidance for end of fiscal year (FY) 2021 processes, timelines, and cutoff dates for internal controls, fund obligations, payments, easement closings, and business tools. This includes National Easement Staging Tool (NEST), Protracts, and Financial Management Modernization Initiative (FMMI) for the implementation of Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) easements, Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) easements under the 2014 Farm Bill Authorities, Water Bank Program, Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP), Emergency Wetland Protection Program – Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE), and closed conservation easements.   
 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2021   
 
Background.   Every FY, Easement Programs Division (EPD) establishes timelines and cutoff dates to ensure that all easement and Water Bank Program financial transactions and other processes are completed and recorded prior to the end of the FY.          
 
Explanation.   Due to the FPAC-BC cutoff of September 23, 2021, (5 p.m. EST), for processing individually submitted payments and fund obligations (including modifications), EPD has finalized associated timelines and cutoff dates for applicable processes. State Conservationists should not execute any Agreement for the Purchase of Conservation Easement (APCE), Enrollment Agreement Supplements, Water Bank Program contracts, or ACEP-ALE Parcel Contracts after September 23, 2021, without written approval from the Easement Programs Division (EPD) Easement Policy Branch.  In order to request approval, submit a signed request via the Program Activities Management Solution (PAMS).  To submit in PAMS, create a Waiver ticket in PAMS, complete required data in the ticket, and upload a STC-signed request to obligate past the established September 23, 2021 cutoff date.  EPD will respond to the request via PAMS. Obligations executed after September 23, 2021, will require individual tracking and management to ensure obligation in FMMI, NEST and ProTracts, as applicable.

 

EPD staff will perform continual quality assurance on FMMI and NEST reconciliation data. EPD will contact State easement staff via the Program Activities Management Solution (PAMS) in accordance with NB 300-21-41.  All reconciliation activities must be completed by the end of the FY.

 

In order to meet the financial-related timelines, EPD has set IC timelines. As originally stated in National Bulletin 300-21-8, September 13, 2021, is the last date to submit—

  • National IC preobligation review requests for ACEP, RCPP-ACEP, EWPP-FPE, HFRP, and RCPP-HFRP. Any national IC preobligation review request received after September 13, 2021, is not guaranteed assignment.

  • National IC prepayment/closing review requests for ACEP RCPP-ACEP, RCPP-HFRP, HFRP, and EWPP-FPE. Any prepayment/closing review requests for the aforementioned programs received after September 13, 2021, will be held until October 1, 2021, for processing.

 

All national-level IC reviews that can be completed by September 23, 2021, will be returned to the State in accordance with National Instruction 300-300.

 

As in years past, Easements must not to be closed September 24, 2021, through September 30, 2021, for ACEP-WRE, EWPP-FPE, RCPP-HFRP, and RCPP-ACEP-WRE easements. This blackout period for closing applies only to the listed programs and is intended to minimize the negative impacts of unreconciled late-September closings and payments on the NRCS financial statement. ACEP-ALE/RCPP-ACEP-ALE National IC prepayment/closing review requests may be submitted at any time and are not subject to blackout dates; however, States must communicate with partners to ensure that closing date information is recorded in NEST or ProTracts as soon as possible, particularly prior to the end of the FY.

 

States must enter closing dates for all closed easements in NEST or ProTracts regardless of easement recording or payment status and monitoring events for all easements that closed before September 30, 2020, prior to September 27, 2021. For Monitoring event upload for ProTracts records, follow instructions in NB 300-21-50, “Upload of Monitoring Documentation for Closed ACEP-ALE Easements in ProTracts to the Program Activities Management Solution (PAMS).”  The NEST lockout for State users begins at 11:59 p.m. EST, September 27, 2021. Generally state users will not regain access to NEST for data entry until mid- to late-October. ProTracts lockout for State users begins at 6:00 p.m. EST, September 30, 2021.  State users will not regain access to ProTracts for data entry until October 8, 2021.  Further guidance related to the availability of ProTracts is available in NB 440-21-29, Temporary Suspension of Application and Contract Management Activities in ProTracts for Fiscal Year 2021.  

 
Contact.   If there are general questions or concerns regarding this National Bulletin, contact Easement Programs Support at easementsupport@usda.gov. For any specific questions related to internal controls, contact NRCS.Internalcontrols@usda.gov. NEST questions should be directed to NEST Support at NESTSupport@usda.gov. General program questions should be directed to the various national program managers.    
 
 

 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs  
 
   
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