USDA Secretary Delivers Welcome CRP News to Pheasants, Quail, and Hunters
New CRP General Signup Announced along with new acres for CP 33, CP 37, & CP 38.
Des Moines, Iowa – -(AmmoLand.com)- Today at Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans for a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup.
Secretary Vilsack also announced increased acreage allotments for three CRP practices significant to wildlife, and then signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Pheasants Forever.
The new general CRP signup slated for later this year will be the first general signup since 2006. It arrives in time to address the 4.4 million acres of CRP expiring on September 30, 2010. An additional 14.2 million acres of CRP are slated to expire between 2011 and 2013.
“Last week at a Pheasants Forever event is southern Minnesota, Secretary Vilsack indicated his intent to keep CRP at, or nearly fully enrolled at, the program’s authorized level of 32 million acres. Today the Secretary outlined just how he intends to accomplish that by utilizing both a general signup and increased allocations for continuous CRP practices targeted at benefitting pheasants, quail, and waterfowl,” reported Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “Considering the severity of this winter and sizeable number of acres set to expire from CRP this year, the Secretary’s announcement is very welcome news for wildlife and hunters. USDA’s actions today will benefit birds tomorrow with newly allocated CP-33’s, 37’s, and 38’s (SAFE) being available on March 15, 2010.”
During his keynote address in front of 800 attendees, Secretary Vilsack outlined the new acreage caps for three critical CRP practices at or approaching current limits.
- Conservation Practice 33: Known as the “Upland Bird Habitat Buffers” or “Bobwhite Buffers” practice, more than 219,000 of the 250,000 acres allocated in the program have been enrolled nationwide. The newly announced 100,000 acres will be distributed among Midwest and Southern states
- Conservation Practice 37: This “Duck Nesting Habitat Initiative” practice has 87,000 acres currently enrolled in the Prairie Pothole Region states of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Today’s newly announced 50,000 acres includes 25,000 acres for North Dakota, and an additional 15,000 acres for South Dakota.
- Conservation Practice 38: Also known as the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement program (SAFE), this conservation practice focuses on environmentally sensitive land, as well as species that have suffered significant population declines and/or are considered to be socially or economically valuable. This is the newest CRP practice, but states like Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota were already maxed out or were quickly approaching their acreage caps. An additional 150,000 SAFE acres have been allocated benefitting a wide array of species. States and target species include North Dakota pheasants, South Dakota grassland birds, Idaho Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, Minnesota pheasants, Mississippi bobwhite quail, Nebraska upland habitats, Iowa pheasants and upland birds, Illinois pheasants and upland habitat, and Georgia bobwhite quail. Currently, more than 253,000 acres are enrolled in 34 states.
“When President Obama took office, we asked his Administration for a new general CRP signup, new SAFE acres, and new CP 33 acres for quail,” explained Nomsen. “Today, Secretary Vilsack and President Obama delivered us these critical tools needed to put habitat back on the ground, birds in the air, and hunters in the field.”
Secretary Vilsack also signed a first ever MOU between the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and Pheasants Forever. The MOU establishes the framework for the three groups to work together in partnership toward common goals; specifically the implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs. The MOU facilitates the free flow of information among the groups and provides a foundation for Pheasants Forever to deliver conservation technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, and landowners.
The MOU will allow Pheasants Forever to facilitate expansion of its current Farm Bill Biologist program, which has proven an effective method for assisting landowners in implementing conservation practices on their property. Pheasants Forever, along with other state wildlife partners, currently employ 50 Farm Bill and Partner Biologists in eight states. To date, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists have contacted and consulted 30,000 landowners, resulting in the improvement of 1.3 million acres of land for wildlife.
National Pheasant Fest 2010 wraps up on Sunday, February 28th with show hours of 10AM to 5PM. Tickets are available at the Iowa Events Center.
For additional information about Pheasants Forever, visit www.PheasantsForever.org