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Earth Day Proves to be a Great Day for Minnesota’s Pheasants

Pheasants Forever Helps Announce New Minnesota CREP & Encourages Land Stewardship and Volunteerism

Owatonna, Minn. – April 22, 2005 – Minnesota’s second Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP II) was signed during an Earth Day ceremony held near Owatonna. Pheasants Forever (PF) President and CEO Howard Vincent joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty to make the announcement.

“Minnesota’s pheasants, ducks, otters, beavers, and brook trout scored a major victory today,” explained Vincent. “All Minnesotans come out winners today. CREP will clean our water, give habitat homes to the wildlife we love, and help make Minnesota the outdoor wonderland we call home. On behalf of the 24,000 Minnesota Pheasants Forever members, I would like to thank Governor Pawlenty and Secretary Johanns for making this Earth Day a true celebration for all Minnesotans.”

CREP is a targeted method for retiring a state’s most environmentally sensitive farmlands. As a result, CREP acres provide extremely high natural resource benefits; including improvements to water quality, prevention of soil erosion, and the creation of wildlife habitat. Minnesota’s CREP II targets 120,000 acres in three regions of the state. The Red River Watershed in northwestern Minnesota will be allocated 51,000 acres. Southeastern Minnesota has been targeted with another 51,000 acres, while southwestern Minnesota will receive the remaining 18,000 acres. The first Minnesota CREP enrolled 100,000 acres in the Minnesota River Watershed in the south-central part of the state.

After much debate, up to 29,000 acres of the 120,000 total will be targeted at wetlands and enrolled using permanent easements. During the first Minnesota CREP, 99 percent of all the acres were retired through permanent easements. PF and other conservation groups had worked hard to increase the number of acres available for permanent easements in CREP II. In the final agreement, the vast majority of CREP II’s acres will be enrolled in contracts covering 45 years.

“There is no question that we support permanent easement options for farmers and landowners who want to deliver the highest possible natural resource benefits,” explains Vincent. “However, we also recognize that to effectively manage an agricultural landscape as broad and diverse as Minnesota’s that we need a wide array of conservation tools available; including short-term, long-term, and perpetual options. Today, we gained a valuable new tool through CREP II. In the end, Minnesota’s wildlife and environment come out a winner.”

Vincent also took the opportunity to encourage land stewardship and conservation volunteerism as part of his Earth Day message. “Earth Day celebrates something that we intrinsically know - we must take care of the land that sustains us. I challenge all Minnesotans to get involved in the outdoors. It’s time to re-connect to the land. Volunteer to help restore a native prairie, reclaim a wetland, or plant a tree. Make a difference and volunteer for a cause that means abundant wildlife, beautiful scenery, and clean water for our children.”

PF is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. Such efforts benefit landowners and wildlife alike. PF is the only national wildlife conservation organization that leaves 100 percent of the fundraising dollars, along with the decision on how best to utilize those funds, in the local communities where they are raised. PF has more than 110,000 members in over 600 local chapters across the continent.

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