The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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The Black Swamp Conservancy, which has been allocated $564,320 to purchase agricultural easements through the state’s Clean Ohio Fund, will hold an informational meeting Jan. 20 to discuss farmland preservation.

The meeting will be held at the W.W. Knight Preserve, 29530 White Rd., Perrysburg.

The Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program provides funding for the purchase of easements to preserve Ohio farmland. An easement allows a landowner to retain ownership and management of the land while ensuring the property is used primarily for agriculture in perpetuity.

Agreements are binding on current and future owners.

Land in Wood, Fulton, Sandusky and Seneca counties qualify for easements offered through the conservancy.

A 90-day application period began Jan. 15, according to the conservancy.

In addition to the LAEPP, the Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program that is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service will also be discussed at the meeting along with other options.

Statewide, 17 local sponsors have been certified by the state to accept applications from landowners in 46 counties. A total of $6 million is available in this funding round and the Ohio Department of Agriculture estimates it may leverage up to $18 million from the farm and ranch program.

Selected farms must be more than 40 acres and actively engaged in farming. Owners must also enroll their land in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, have support from the local government, demonstrate good stewardship of the land and not be close to developments.

The conservancy has preserved more than 13,000 acres since its founding in 1993.

Voters approved the Clean Ohio Fund in 2008. Combined with easements from all programs, 303 family farms in 48 counties have preserved about 52,662 acres, according to figures compiled by the agriculture department.

For information about the Black Swamp Conservancy visit www.blackswamp.org.