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New CRP Program to Benefit Iowa Wildlife

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New CRP Program to Benefit Iowa Wildlife
Posted: May 9, 2008

MEDIA CONTACTS: Angi Bruce at (712) 769-2587 or Todd Bogenschutz at (515) 432-2823 (after May 9) or Chad Paup at (641) 464-2220 for the Kellerton area.

DES MOINES â€" Iowa landowners have the opportunity to restore habitat for declining grassland birds, migratory birds, butterflies and pollinators through a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative that began May 1.

Up to 27,700 acres of land can be enrolled in a continuous CRP called SAFE, which stands for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement.

Landowners will receive rental and incentive payments to restore critical habitat through three different SAFE options. The DNR co-sponsored two of the SAFE options and Conservation Districts of Iowa co-sponsored the third.

“The program is targeted to restore diverse habitats that will benefit many wildlife species, from bobolinks to butterflies; from waterfowl to pollinators such as our native solitary bees,” said Angi Bruce, DNR wildlife supervisor in southwest Iowa.

“Habitat loss in Iowa is at a critical stage with more than 800 square miles of grassland â€"an area larger than many Iowa counties â€" to be returned to row crops by 2010,” she added. “Downward trends in many wildlife species have followed the downward trends in grassland, wetland and woodland habitats.”

In the statewide “Gaining Ground for Wildlife” SAFE, the emphasis is on providing a diverse native habitat near or adjacent to publicly owned land. Sign-up is limited to 19,700 acres in focus areas throughout the state, except in Allamakee and Clayton Counties.

“Landowners will add the private component to our current successes on public land, to create a complex of diverse habitats, instead of small, isolated pockets of habitat,” said Bruce. “That will have benefits for many species, not just one or two.”

The “Grand River Grassland” SAFE is aimed at restoring prairie chickens and other grassland species in Ringgold County.

“Planting a mix of short native grasses can keep prairie chickens, quail, dickcissel, bobolink and meadowlark populations thriving in the southeast part of the county,” said Chad Paup, DNR wildlife biologist. “Eligible areas are within the Kellerton Bird Conservation Area which is the largest prairie chicken breeding area in the state.

Bruce added that if landowners qualify, they are accepted. “There is no competition for enrollment and eligible land does not need to meet erodibility standards. It does need to qualify based on crop history and the type of habitat needed.”

Land entering the CRP for the first time will be eligible for a signing incentive payment of $100 per acre and a practice incentive payment of 40 percent of the cost of practice installation, on top of the normal CRP annual rental payment and 50 percent cost-sharing for practice installation.

In all SAFE projects, the sponsoring agency is required to do long-term monitoring to report the success in increasing the numbers of targeted species. Contracts offered will range from 10 to 15 years in duration. Maintenance and required management practices at certain points during the life of the contract are included and must be performed by the participant.

Apply at your county USDA Farm Service Agency office. For additional information regarding the Iowa SAFE projects, contact your local FSA, Iowa DNR, or NRCS office. Your local DNR private lands wildlife professional can assist with advice on wildlife species and seeding mixes. Find their contact information by calling (515) 281-5918.

Additional information on the two DNR co-sponsored projects can be found on the DNR private lands home page at

The three approved SAFE project areas in Iowa are:

Grand River Grassland is sponsored by: Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa farm Service Agency (FSA), Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pheasants Forever, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Audubon Society, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Ringgold County Conservation Board, and Ringgold County Soil and Water Conservation District. This project covers the Kellerton Bird Conservation Area in Ringgold County and includes 4500 acres. The purpose of the project is to restore habitat for grassland dependent birds by converting cropland or existing CRP into high quality native grasslands

Gaining Ground for Wildlife is sponsored by: Iowa DNR, Iowa FSA, Iowa NRCS, USFWS, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Audubon Society, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa County Conservation Boards, Conservation Districts of Iowa, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). Project covers 19,700 acres in portions of all counties with the exception of Allamakee and Clayton. The purpose is to restore native grassland/wetland habitat for songbirds, upland game birds, and waterfowl.

Habitat for Early Successional and Neotropical Migratory Forest Birds is sponsored by: Soil and Water Conservation Districts, CDI on behalf of the 4 counties, Iowa FSA, Iowa NRCS, Iowa DNR--Wildlife and Forestry Divisions, IDALS--Division of Soil Conservation, Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development. Project covers 3500 acres in Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette and Winneshiek counties. The purpose of the project is to produce habitat for bird species showing decline by using hardwood trees, bottomland timber establishment on wetlands, and shrub/grass plantings.
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