Many of Nebraska’s habitat programs will get a boost from recent Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-ups. More than 76,000 acres in Nebraska were enrolled or re-enrolled in CRP during the sign-up period earlier this year. This will be the first year overall CRP enrollment in Nebraska will increase since 2007. These sign-ups, combined with land already enrolled in CRP, bring the state’s total acres enrolled in CRP to 773,203.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced enrollment figures May 5, with Nebraska enrolling 25,024 acres in the general CRP sign-up and 31,089 acres in the first-ever CRP Grassland enrollment. In addition, 20,462 acres have been enrolled in Continuous CRP in 2016 so far.
“CRP is critically important habitat for grassland dependent species in Nebraska,” said Alicia Hardin, assistant division administrator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s wildlife division. “This is welcome news for pheasants, quail and many other grassland species. Without grassland habitats like those CRP provides, it would impossible to meet our habitat goals.”
Recently, Nebraska Game and Parks unveiled a five-year pheasant management plan that aims to produce the best hunting experiences for the most hunters. This plan will consider all manageable aspects of the pheasant hunting experience, with habitat and hunter access – particularly for youth – as project cornerstones. The 76,000 acres enrolled in CRP this year will complement many other habitat programs around the state and will help in achieving habitat goals outlined in the Pheasant Mega Plan.
CRP is a land conservation program administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Ag producers enrolled in CRP agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality in exchange for a yearly rental payment. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The goal of CRP is to re-establish land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.
Nationwide, 411,000 acres were accepted into CRP through the general signup, and 101,000 acres through CRP Grasslands. More than 364,000 acres have been enrolled through continuous enrollment so far this year, which is triple the pace of 2015. There are currently 23,710,000 acres enrolled in CRP nationwide.