Two ACE program divisions, SEG Crew and Private Lands, teamed up to provide critical protection to countless plant and animal species and combat the effects of climate change at Monument Farms, a dairy farm located outside of iconic Middlebury, Vermont.

A portion of the farm’s land has been protected for wetland habitat conservation through a conservation easement held by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a federal agency providing solutions helping agricultural producers to protect natural resources.

Environmental photojournalist Jessica Plance captures the collaborative efforts of ACE, the NRCS, and Monument Farms and the impact of their work in improving wildlife habitat and the wetlands ecosystem. Check out our video telling the story of this partnership at the link here: Monument Farms Wetland Restoration: The Power of Partnerships.

Through the project, ACE was tasked with planting 3,000 native trees and shrubs that thrive in seasonal wetland environments, helping to stabilize these critical ecosystems. Additionally, ACE installed 1,730 feet of willow fascines (bundles of willow branches) to help stabilize banks and provide new habitat. This work increases connectivity of functioning habitats across private lands for various species of migratory and resident wildlife.

This project is just one example of how ACE is joining forces with the NRCS and private landowners across the country to create sustainable habitats providing benefits such as clean drinking water, crop pollination, flood control, and much more.

A mere 3% of protected areas in the country are on private lands, despite the fact that 60% of all land in the country is privately owned. Most of the country’s biodiversity and potential to store carbon are not on federal lands. About two-thirds of species on the Endangered Species List exist mainly on private land. More than half of the country’s forests — critical carbon sinks, and landscapes that absorb more carbon dioxide than they release — are privately owned.

ACE would like to thank the key personnel for this project:

  • Jim Eikenbury, NRCS Vermont – USDA
  • Jeremy Fowler, NRCS
  • Monument Farms, Landowner
  • Jessica Plance, Environmental Photojournalist
  • Kerri Ryan, ACE Crew Lead
  • Dan McLendon, ACE Restoration Project Manager
  • Crystal Simons, ACE Private Lands and NRCS Division Director

ACE provides environmental service opportunities for youth, young adults, and emerging professionals of all backgrounds to explore and improve public lands while gaining practical professional experience. To learn more, visit


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