However, more than 80 percent of the LIS watershed is in private hands, much of it in small family ownerships. To facilitate greater habitat connectivity, water quantity, and quality, and ecological resilience, particularly in a time of climate change, we need to consider the status of surrounding parcels to the extent that may stretch to thousands, tens, and hundreds of thousands of acres.  Fortunately, there are regional-scale conservation initiatives working throughout the watershed.  These include twenty "Regional Conservation Partnerships" or RCPs that seek to increase the connectivity of land protection projects through greater private-public coordination.  And it includes “Connect the Connecticut,” a strategic conservation design for linking intact habitats throughout the entire CT River watershed, and Nature’s Network that does the same for the entire Northeast.

The Role of Strategic Large Landscape 
Conservation Initiatives

The LISW-RCPP seeks to use HFRP and ACEP-ALE funding as a catalyst for conservation

and management of individual and family-owned woodlands in different kinds of 
landscapes throughout the watershed. The LISW-RCPP also wants to ensure that the

investments of its many partners and that of taxpayers results in leveraging the greatest

ecological, economic, and social benefits in different parts of the watershed. We want to encourage this outcome by prioritizing the expenditure of these funds in areas that meet statutory purposes, but that also protect drinking water supply areas.

​The watershed is comprised of urban, suburban, exurban, pastoral, and more remote wildlands and woodland landscapes, all of which may, under greater levels of conservation, contribute to the long-term health of the Sound. 

Please email the completed Pre-Screening Application Form 
and associated materials as attachments to​

5 PM, Nov 5, 2019.


Use this subject line: Attn: LISW Forest Land Protection

For more information about this program, and/or for assistance, please contact Bill Labich, Chair of the LISW-RCPP Forest Land Protection Technical Committee and Highstead Foundation Senior Conservationist at​

While any landowner may apply for ACEP-ALE funding, the LISW-RCPP requires applicants to complete and submit a LISW-RCPP ACEP-ALE Pre-Application (electronically via email).  The LISW-RCPP will screen, score, and rank applications, elevating those that best meet the requirements of the LISW-RCPP ACEP-ALE Program, and that results in greater ecological, social, and economic benefits and leveraged funding. The LISW-RCPP will use geographic information systems (GIS) and publicly-available Census data combined with the national and state/LISW-RCPP ranking criteria to provide each parcel with a score and then to rank each pre-screening application by combining parcel scores for each project.    

We strongly encourage interested landowners to work directly with conservation land trusts and state agencies in coordination with one or more of the twenty Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) in the watershed, which are shown on the online map as one of the data layers.

Please read through all of the application materials (links to download documents below) for funding program details and eligibility and ranking criteria.  At the end of the enrollment period (after Nov 5, 2019), the Forest Land Protection Technical Committee will score parcels based on these criteria, rank parcels and projects based on their scores and forward their list to NRCS VT for processing.

To see if your parcel is eligible based on its location relative to the LI Sound Watershed and the State of Vermont, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the State of Rhode Island, click the buttons below for the Online Map and the Map Instructions (Please note the map instructions are from last year's grant round (VT only)):

The Long Island Sound Regional Conservation Partnership Program 2019 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Agricultural Land Easement Grant Round

Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Only

The purpose of the LISW-RCPP - Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) - Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) grant round is to assist landowners, on a voluntary basis, in helping to restore, enhance and protect forestland resources on private lands through permanent conservation easements.

The LISW-RCPP has developed this 2019 pre-screening application process to help NRCS direct up to $600,000 in ACEP-ALE funding to land protection projects in VT, MA, and RI and the LI Sound Watershed that:

  • Permanently protect actively managed agricultural/forest land that will contribute to local economic activity
  • Improve plant and animal biodiversity
  • Enhance carbon sequestration
  • Protect drinking water supply resource areas

Bill Labich, Highstead Foundation

working with Harvard Forest

         Forest Land Protection Technical Committee

   Bill Labich, Highstead Foundation
   Robert O'Connor, Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
   Bruce Payton, Rhode Island Division of Forest Environment
   Dan Peracchio, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
   Keith Thompson, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

   Karen Bennett, Extension Forestry Professor & Specialist with UNH Cooperative Ext.   
   John Wernet, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
   Kira Jacobs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
   Suzanne Paton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
   Karl Honkonen, U.S. Forest Service

The purpose of the 2019 LISW-RCPP - Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) - Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) grant round is to assist landowners, on a voluntary basis, in helping to restore, enhance and protect forestland resources on private lands through permanent conservation easements.





Enrollment Period: October 7, 2019, to November 5, 2019

Primary Resource Concern: Excess Nitrogen

The primary resource concern addressed by the LISW-RCPP is excess nutrients in stormwater runoff from working lands and the conversion of agricultural and forest lands to urban uses.

One Solution: Protect Privately-Owned Working Forestland from Development that also Benefits Rare Species Habitat and Water Quality

The LISW-RCPP includes a robust forest land protection program, funded through the targeted application of $1.9 million in Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) and up to $900,000 in ACEP-ALE funding, and aimed at bolstering the long-term health of the watershed. 

Protecting and sustaining land as forest is critical both for reaching the nitrogen reduction goals of the TMDL and providing drinking water supply protection. 

Permanent land protection also addresses many of the secondary resource concerns including biodiversity and forest fragmentation. 

More specifically, the LISW-RCPP values the permanent protection of forestland owned by individual and family forest owners that are vulnerable to development or fragmentation, and that contain critical or significant habitat that sustains biodiversity and drinking water supply areas. Evaluation will include the number of acres of priority natural features protected and their contribution to large landscape conservation connectivity.

Request for Proposals – Describes the entire program and criteria.

Pre-Screening Application Form – To be filled out and returned via email to the address below along with the other elements of a complete application.

Pre-Screening Ranking Worksheet – Will be used by the LISW-RCPP Forest Land Protection Technical Committee to score and rank parcels and projects with points awarded based almost entirely on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Ag Census data (Please note that the worksheet is provided as a courtesy and is not part of the application).