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Conservation Programs

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Kansas Rolls Out CRP for Playas, Signs up Landowners

When most landowners enroll land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), it's a pretty low-key affair. They usually sign their CRP contract while standing at the counter in the local Farm Service Agency office, but not Earl Simon.

Earl was standing on a flatbed trailer in a field just south of Dodge City. Adjacent to him, and the dozens of onlookers witnessing the event, was a sparkling 22-acre playa lake populated by hundreds of waterfowl. But then, this was no ordinary CRP contract signing. This was the Kansas kick off for the Wetlands Restoration Initiative, and Earl was signing the state's first contract, enrolling a 60-acre buffer.

As if on cue as the papers were signed, a flock of Canada geese flew overhead, joining a gathering of hundreds of sandhill cranes, American Avocets, Northern Pintails, Mallards, Redheads, and Lesser Yellowlegs, which were also paying a visit to the playa that day.

The goal of the new Wetlands Restoration Initiative is to restore up to 250,000 acres of wetlands and playa lakes that are located outside of the 100-year floodplain. For this practice, wetlands are low-lying ecosystems where the water table is always at or near the surface. Playas, which are native to the Central Plains states, are shallow, depressional, rechargeable wetlands formed through a combination of wind, wave, and dissolution processes with each wetland existing in its own watershed.

Creating additional wetland complexes will benefit a variety wildlife species and improve water quality. Restoring playa lakes will, in addition to creating or maintaining wildlife habitat, help recharge the Ogallala aquifer and groundwater supplies critical for drinking water, irrigation, and wildlife.

Earl Simon, Ruby Simon, and Dennis Simon in front of Playa Lake just enrolled in CRP.

Earl Simon, Ruby Simon, and Dennis Simon in front of Playa Lake just enrolled in CRP.


Steve Connelly, Deputy Administrator Field Operations (DAFO), and Earl Simon, landowner

Steve Connelly, Deputy Administrator Field Operations (DAFO), and Earl Simon, landowner



Geese fly over ceremony

Geese fly over ceremony marking first CRP Wetland Restoration Initiative contract for playa lake in Kansas.


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