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News Releases

Printable Version
Release 0319.12

 
Contact: Office of Communications (202) 720-3088

 

 
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Fulfills Commitment to Designate 1 Million Additional Conservation Acres to Support Wildlife Habitat Restoration

 
Failure to Pass Food, Farm and Jobs Bill Puts Enrollments in Jeopardy
LEWIS, Iowa, Oct. 8, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today underscored the Obama Administration’s commitment to partnerships in conservation by announcing the allocation of 400,000 acres to support conservation and restoration of wildlife and their habitats as part of the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. Under Vilsack’s leadership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has enrolled more than 12 million acres in CRP, a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use marginal and environmentally sensitive land to bring conservation and economic benefits for their land and communities. Today’s announcement of 400,000 state acres for wildlife enhancement (SAFE acres), fulfills Vilsack’s commitment made last spring to commit 1 million acres for special initiatives to restore grasslands, wetlands and wildlife habitat.

 
“Since 2009, USDA has worked with producers and private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation programs,” said Vilsack. “These efforts have not only conserved our natural resources, but bolstered rural economies for current and future generations. That’s why it’s important for Congress to pass comprehensive, multi-year food, farm and jobs legislation—so that America’s rural communities have certainty that millions of acres of conservation lands will be there tomorrow to sustain and create jobs in the small businesses that reinforce our tourism and recreation industry.”

 
With 400,000 SAFE acres available, USDA will work with producers and landowners to target habitat for high-priority species like the lesser prairie chicken and sage grouse, as well as game species like pheasants and quail that providing hunting opportunities and support rural jobs. Existing projects in 20 states will be able to add up to 280,000 combined acres for all projects, including prairie, wetlands, forest and savanna habitat restoration.In addition, more than 100,000 acres were added to target species as diverse as northern scarlet snakes, ferruginous hawks and the American woodcock.

 
SAFE is a voluntary continuous CRP practice that conserves and restores habitat for wildlife species that are threatened or endangered, have suffered significant population declines or are important environmentally, economically or socially. SAFE is currently capped at 1.25 million acres nationally. Acres are now allocated across 97 SAFE projects located in 36 states and Puerto Rico.
Under SAFE, state fish and wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations and other conservation partners work collaboratively to target CRP delivery to specific conservation practices and geographic areas where enrollment of eligible farm land in continuous CRP will provide significant wildlife value. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) monitors SAFE and other continuous CRP activity and manages available acres to ensure that CRP goals and objectives are being met.

 
The Food Security Act of 1985, Section 1231(a), as amended, provides authority to enroll land in CRP through September 30, 2012.However, no legislation has been enacted to reauthorize or extend this authority; therefore, CRP currently is unable to enroll new acres.

 
In March, Secretary Vilsack announced USDA’s intent to enroll up to 1 million acres in a new CRP grasslands and wetlands initiative meant to target environmentally sensitive land through continuous signups. FSA has set aside acres within CRP for specific enrollments that benefit duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wetlands, pollinators and wildlife. In addition, USDA announced a continuous sign-up of highly erodible cropland, which seeks to protect the nation’s most environmentally sensitive lands. The Highly Erodible Cropland initiative permits landowners to enroll up to 750,000 acres of land with an Erodibility Index (EI) of 20 or greater.

 
CRP is one of America’s most valuable and vital conservation efforts, ensuring cleaner air and water, preventing soil erosion, and enhancing economic opportunity in rural America by supporting recreation and tourism. The approach to target the most sensitive lands is essential to maintain the substantial benefits of CRP while ensuring that productive farmlands continue to produce America’s food, feed, fiber and renewable fuel.

 
Highlights of CRP include:

 
  • CRP prevents the erosion of 325 million tons of soil each year, or enough soil to fill 19.5 million dump trucks;
  • CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and two million acres of riparian buffers;
  • Each year, CRP keeps more than 600 million pounds of nitrogen and more than 100 million pounds of phosphorous from flowing into our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes;
  • CRP provides $1.8 billion annually to landowners—dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs; and
  • CRP is the largest private lands carbon sequestration program in the country. By placing vulnerable cropland into conservation, CRP sequesters carbon in plants and soil, and reduces both fuel and fertilizer usage. In 2010, CRP resulted in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.

 
As part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the Administration is opening up recreational access to lands and waters, supporting the creation of urban parks and trails, increasing youth employment in conservation jobs and making historic investments in large landscapes such as the Everglades. The initiative is empowering locally-led conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, from supporting the working landscapes of the Dakota Grasslands and longleaf pine in the southern U.S., to designating the Chimney Rock National Monument inColorado, to countless other success stories across the country.

 
In 2011, USDA enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and prevent soil erosion. Moreover, the Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, implement the Farm Bill, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers.

 
The following tables show the breakdown of SAFE allocations by state and projects:

 

 
SAFE ALLOCATIONS
State
Project
Original Acreage Allocation
Change in Allocation
Final Allocation
AR
Trees
5,000
1,200
6,200
AR
Grass
7,700
1,000
8,700
AR
Wetlands
3,500
-1,000
2,500
GA
Restoring Native Pine Savannah
8,800
3,000
11,800
ID
Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse
94,300
11,800
106,100
ID
Western ID Upland Game Bird
25,000
25,000
IL
Mercer County
800
1,000
1,800
IN
American Woodcock
1,000
1,000
IN
Indiana Bat
3,100
1,000
4,100
IN
Henslow's Sparrow
5,075
1,000
6,075
IN
Northern Bobwhite
7,875
1,000
8,875
IN
Ring-Necked Pheasant
4,000
4,000
IN
Sedge Wren/ Grasshopper Sparrow
3,050
1,000
4,050
IA
Gaining Ground
36,250
5,900
42,150
IA
Pheasant Recovery
50,000
50,000
KS
Upland Game Birds
30,100
14,800
44,900
KS
Lesser Prairie Chicken
30,000
22,100
52,100
KY
Early Successional / Bottomland
8,600
3,000
11,600
MN
Back Forty Pheasant
33,900
14,800
48,700
MS
Bobwhite Quail
9,450
1,000
10,450
MO
Bobwhite Quail
17,650
7,400
25,050
MO
Delta Stewardship
6,000
6,000
MO
Sand Grassland
3,250
1,800
5,050
MT
Pheasant Winter Cover
15,200
4,400
19,600
MT
Prairie Pothole
8,500
5,900
14,400
MT
Sagebrush
1,000
1,500
2,500
NE
Tallgrass Prairie
21,450
7,400
28,850
NE
Upland Bird
30,950
22,100
53,050
NJ
Agricultural Heritage
300
150
450
NJ
Grassland
400
350
750
NJ
Raritan-Piedmont
300
250
550
NV
Sage Grouse Habitat Improvement
400
400
ND
Coteau-drift Prairie Water
20,000
16,200
36,200
ND
Habitat for Pheasants
18,000
11,800
29,800
ND
Sagebrush Restoration
1,000
1,000
2,000
ND
Tallgrass Prairie
6,090
1,000
7,090
OH
Big Island/ Killdeer
925
1,000
1,925
OH
Grasslands for Pheasants
6,600
22,100
28,700
OH
Kitty Todd
200
500
700
OH
LaSuAn Grasslands
1,950
4,400
6,350
OH
Paint Creek
675
1,000
1,675
OH
Western Lake Erie
400
1,000
1,400
OH
Southern Grassland
850
1,000
1,850
SD
Pheasants
50,200
14,800
65,000
SD
Western SD Grassland Wildlife
18,000
14,800
32,800
TN
Grass
10,000
1,500
11,500
TX
Mixed Grass
78,400
44,300
122,700
WA
Ferruginous Hawk
20,000
20,000
WA
Shrub-steppe
7,322
8,900
16,222
.
Subtotal
607,112
385,550
992,662
.
Other project with no change in original allocation
232,878
232,878
.
Reserve
10,010
14,450
24,460
.
Total
850,000
385,550
1,250,000

 
For more information on SAFE, contact a local FSA county office or visit the FSA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp

 
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

 

 

 

 
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