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A Conservation Reserve Program offshoot has just achieved a fantastic goal of enrolling more than one million acres, thanks to land being signed up in North Dakota. The offshoot of the CRP program, which has recently declined, was developed to help booster wildlife habitat and protect vulnerable species from continuing population declines.

The amount of land now enrolled in the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program is double what the creators had original thought was possible when the program was started seven years ago. Lands in the program are spread between three dozen states and help to provide quality habitat for a number of different species, many them sport animals.

The SAFE program offers financial rewards to landowners who in return leave land to go natural for a period of between 10 and 15 years. The program also provides financial support for creating and improving wildlife habitat on that land.

"As it enhances the flora and fauna of the countryside, it can also create recreational opportunities for the sportsman, which is an investment in the rural economy as well," Val Dolcini, Federal Farm Service Agency Administrator, recently stated.

In January 2008, the goal was to restore or enhance 500,000 acres of wildlife habitat through the program’s efforts. The newly enrolled lands in North Dakota, took the total lands involved in the program to over one million. The small land is only about 300 acres, but is still an important part of the overall habitat program.

Landowners like the program because they enroll smaller chunks of land for more specific reasons unlike with other conservation programs. Landowners also like the benefits that the wildlife receives from the efforts and this is greater with those who are hunters as well.

The CRP has seen a decline in lands enrolled in recent years because commodity crops have increased in price making it more financially viable to turn lands into production. The SAFE program aims to counter this by offering landowners a chance to lessen the amount of land enrolled and to make it specific to habitats that wildlife will enjoy instead of just crop fields.

Have you heard of the SAFE program before? Are you signed up to the SAFE program?

Let us know in the comments below.


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