NB_300_22_17 - NB 300-22-17 LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)
NB 300-22-17 LTP – Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)
National Bulletin: 300-22-17  Date: December 17, 2021 
Subject: LTP - Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG)


Action Required By:   September 27, 2022   
 
Purpose.   To provide guidance and directions to State conservationists for submitting accurate and current geospatial boundaries and attributes for all closed stewardship lands, non-stewardship lands, and 30-year contracts to the NEG.    
 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2022
 
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.  Pursuant to current policy (Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 527, Subpart P, “Monitoring”), NRCS must monitor all stewardship land easements and 30-year contracts on an annual basis.  NRCS must monitor all non-stewardship Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) easements at least once in five fiscal years (FYs).  The non-stewardship Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) entity-held easements are only monitored if NRCS must exercise its contingent right of enforcement or to review highly erodible cropland plans.

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 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (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

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

All easements held by the United States

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

All easements

 

NRCS Non-stewardship 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)

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

All easements held by eligible entities where the United States is not a grantee

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

30-year contracts**

 

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

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

         
 
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.  

Cache Tile Service: https://gis.sc.egov.usda.gov/data/rest/services

Image Server Service: https://gis.sc.egov.usda.gov/image/rest/services/easements    

Imagery will also be available in Conservation Desktop.

 

States must check out 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 national bulletin.  Current updates to these instructions will be included with the easement checkout email notifications.  Topology rules are included with each checkout.  However, 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 FY.  Each quarterly State checkout will only include National Easement Staging Tool (NEST) data as of the end of the previous quarter.  For 2022, the schedule is as follows:

 

FY 2022

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 – Flight Planning

July 1 to August 20

August 1

August 20*

4 – End of FY

July 1 to September 30

August 1

September 30

 

*Easement boundaries submitted to the NEG by August 20, 2022, will be included in FY 2023 flight planning.

 

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 FY 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\ .

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.  Non-stewardship ACEP-ALE, FRPP, GRP, and RCPP easements that list the entity 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 non-stewardship ACEP-ALE, FRPP, GRP, and RCPP boundaries are required to upload them to the NEG.

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.

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 non-stewardship dataset provided in the NEG.  All stewardship and non-stewardship  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 national 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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