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Bottomland Timber Establishment on Wetlands Initiative

The Bottomland Timber Establishment on Wetlands Initiative (CP31) practice allows landowners to enroll all or part of bottomland fields in the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Planting hardwood trees and shrubs on land prone to flooding is an excellent way to control sheet, rill, scour and other erosion. It improves air and water quality, provides wildlife habitat, sequesters carbon, and provides forest products for future generations. Bottomland hardwood plantings provide immediate financial benefits over the 15 year life of the CRP contract through an annual rental payment. Bottomland timber also acts as a living retirement account that gains value year after year and can be cashed in around 50 years following planting. 

Conservation & Environmental Benefits of Bottomland Hardwoods

Bottomland hardwood trees and shrubs can provide wildlife habitat, prevent soil erosion, protect water quality, provide recreational opportunities, and produce wood fiber. They provide cover, homes, and food for a variety of wildlife species. When planned in conjunction with forested riparian buffers they can also provide critical travel corridors for wildlife.Water Erosion
Converting crop ground to bottomland forests will also reduce or even eliminate sheet and rill erosion. Permanent woody vegetation slows water flow and captures sediment, which is Iowa's primary water quality problem. Decreasing the sediment load in our waters can improve water quality dramatically. 
Bottomland hardwood plantings also provides an excellent vehicle for taking carbon dioxide out the atmosphere and storing that carbon long term as wood fiber. In time this wood fiber can be marketed and provide an additional income source. 
Working with your forester you can design your bottomland tree and shrub planting to meet your specific ownership objectives, meet CRP program requirements, and ensure that you are planting species suited to your planting site.

Qualifying for the Conservation Reserve Program's Bottomland Hardwood Initiative

The continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is administered through the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA). Technical assistance for the Bottomland Hardwood Initiative is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Iowa DNR Bureau of Forestry. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will make a determination on land eligibility and the IDNR Forestry Bureau will assist with project planning.
Do I qualify?
You qualify for the continuous CRP bottomland hardwood initiative if your offered land is:
Cropland that was planted to agricultural commodities 4 of 6 years between 1996 and 2002
In the 100 year flood plain of a perennial river or stream
When can I sign-up? 
Sign-up is ongoing so you can sign up any time during normal business hours. Offers for the continuous CRP are automatically accepted if your land qualifies.
Where do I sign up? 
You can sign-up at your county FSA office. It is a good idea to call in advance for an appointment to avoid a long wait or a wasted trip. If you want some help determining if you are eligible for the program before talking with FSA, a trip to your county NRCS office or a visit from your District Forester would be a good idea. 
What are the financial incentives?
If you plant hardwood trees and shrubs you will be reimbursed 50% of your total costs not to exceed $300 per acre by the Farm Service Agency. You will be reimbursed 25% of your total costs plus a $100 per acre sign-up bonus from the Iowa Division of Soil Conservation. You will be able to sign up your eligible land for 15 years and receive an annual rental payment on that property of somwhere between $90 and $180 per acre. Following contract expiration the land can be enrolled in the forest reserve program, which eliminates taxes on the property. You or your heirs can count on harvesting between $4,500 to $6,000 dollars per acre of timber per acre in roughly 50 years. This means that planting 20 acres in bottomland hardwoods would generate an income of between $117,000 to $156,000 (assuming 0% inflation and a 0% real price increase in lumber, historically timber stumpage prices have risen 2% above the inflation rate). This means that at the same time you are working to improve water quality, prevent erosion, and providing wildlife habitat, you are also providing a future source of revenue for yourself or your children. 

Forested Riparian Buffer and Bottomland Timber Planning Assistance 

Assistance for planning and installing your forested riparian buffer or bottomland hardwood planting is available from theForester Help IDNR Bureau of Forestry. Contact your District Forester for assistance. Your forester can meet with you on your property and design a plan for your project that will match tree and shrub species to the planting site, provide site preparation andmaintenance information, and give intructions on proper spacing and planting techniques. Your forester can also assist you in either locating a machine tree planter or a forestry services provider who can plant and maintain your buffer.
Your District Forester can help you design your riparian buffer or any other tree planting project. He/She can also assist you with managing your existing woodland resource. Click the link above to view a map outlining Iowa's Forestry Districts and to contact your District Forester. You can make an appointment with your forester and he/she will meet you on your property to discuss your project.

Iowa Grown Trees & Shrubs

When undertaking any tree or shrub planting project it is always best to utilize native grown plant material. Iowa grown trees and shrubs from a native Iowa seed source will be better adapted to our climate and growing conditions than seedlings from other regions of the country. There are several excellent sources of Iowa grown conservation tree and shrub seedlings available for your bottomland tree planting. For information on the sources of tree and shrub seedlings from Iowa's private and public nurseries check out the Sources of Iowa Grown Tree & Shrub Seedlings page