posted on August 15, 2009 02:51
Reallocation of acres and additional acreage allotment needed for SAFE success to continue
Saint Paul, Minn. - August 4, 2009 - With over 30,000 acres enrolled in the program in the past three months, more than 125,000 acres have already been enrolled in federal Conservation Practice 38 this year to date. The wildlife-oriented practice, better known as the State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, currently has 203,874 acres enrolled nationally.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a goal of 500,000 acres for SAFE, which is part of the larger federal Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP). Announced in 2007, SAFE is a wildlife-specific conservation practice that has allowed states to cater policies specific to their wildlife and habitat. For example, SAFE projects in Midwestern states such as Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota benefit pheasants and other upland birds, while the SAFE project in Washington targets Roosevelt elk.
Demand for SAFE in some sates, including South Dakota (50,004 acres), Minnesota (22,476 acres), and Nebraska (20,947 acres) has been so strong that those states are at or near their initial SAFE acreage allotment. "For SAFE to continue to be the stepping stone for the next generation of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), we need to give serious consideration to reallocating acres to continue to meet the demand that exists in certain states," said Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever's vice president of government affairs.
Last year, as part of a contract signing ceremony in South Dakota for the first SAFE contract in the nation, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever requested an additional 500,000 acres nationwide for the program based on strong interest and demand for SAFE in multiple states. "The immediate success has not waned, as SAFE is closing in on 200,000 acres nationwide in less than two years of existence. We're more adamant than ever that an additional 500,000-acre allotment to the SAFE program is necessary going forward," Nomsen said, "A 1-million-acre SAFE program is the progressive step needed to maintain the strength of CRP and create critical habitat for wildlife."
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have been instrumental in both the development and delivery of the SAFE program. The initial SAFE projects were announced at the organization's National Pheasant Fest 2008, and through its Farm Bill Biologist program, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have worked to educate farmers and landowners about the benefits of conservation programs, including SAFE, and then assist those farmers and landowners after programs have been implemented.
More About SAFE
The SAFE program has added flexibility, specialization and a state specific focus to the already existing CRP practices. This is done by concentrating on acres located on the most environmentally sensitive land and then establishing the highest priority conservation practices on these generally smaller tracts. SAFE has also been highly effective in targeting the restoration of habitat critical for wildlife species that are threatened, endangered, have suffered significant population declines and/or are considered to be socially or economically valuable. These species include, but are not limited to, pheasants, bobwhite quail, American black bears, Roosevelt elk, bald eagles, salmon, song birds and pollinators.
How to Enroll in SAFE
SAFE projects are available through USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) service centers as part of the ongoing continuous sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program. For additional information and application assistance regarding SAFE, visit your county FSA office or http://www.fsa.usda.gov; or contact the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologist in your area.
About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 125,000 members in 750 local chapters across the continent.