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Iowa awarded 115,000 acres in Conservation Reserve Program for water quality, pollinator, and wildlife habitat improvements

Iowa has received an additional 115,000 acres that can be enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for critical wildlife and water quality efforts.

For landowners who have general CRP contracts expiring in 2017, this may be their only opportunity to re-enroll existing CRP back into the program.  It is not clear whether there will be a general CRP signup in 2017.

The State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program is part of the continuous CRP program with the goal of restoring high-priority wildlife habitat tailored to specific need. SAFE practices can be used to restore habitat for threatened and endangered species, species that have suffered significant population declines or species that provide significant social or economic value to the community.

Iowa’s existing SAFE programs, Gaining Ground SAFE – targeted to grassland birds and pollinators, and Pheasant Recovery SAFE - targeted at restoring pheasant habitat, each received additional allocations of 50,000 and 25,000 acres respectively. In addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, both SAFE projects provide an excellent opportunity for landowners to enroll land into CRP to establish quality wildlife habitat.

The Iowa DNR has created a webpage for landowners to learn more about federal and state programs available to them. The webpage includes a list of DNR staff who are experts at connecting landowners with programs and writing land management plans that benefit the landowner, wildlife and improve water quality. There is also a link to FSA where landowners can find information about their local FSA office. The landowner assistance webpage is at www.iowadnr.gov/crp.

In addition to the existing Iowa SAFE project announcements, an all-new SAFE project, called Iowa Early Successional Quail Habitat, has been approved for 40,000 acres.

The Iowa Early Successional Quail Habitat SAFE project, in addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, is designed to restore early successional habitat across Iowa’s southern quail range where it will be the most beneficial for bobwhite quail. This new SAFE will also be tremendously beneficial to native pollinators and Monarch butterflies.

Landowners may begin submitting applications on Jan. 9 for Gaining Ground SAFE and Pheasant Recovery SAFE. Applications for the new Quail Habitat SAFE will be accepted later in January. 

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