RALEIGH, N.C. (August 12, 2010) – Landowners who own cropland and are interested in improving wildlife habitat can now apply for the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) under a time-limited “General” sign-up.
The program provides landowners with financial assistance for wildlife habitat establishment and offers rental payments to offset income lost from reduced agricultural production on their property. A General CRP sign-up is underway for cropland which has been designated as “Highly Erodible” and has an official cropping history for at least four years between 2002 and 2007.
“This sign-up represents one of the best opportunities to significantly increase early-successional habitat acres across the state, providing habitat for wildlife species that require this specialized successional stage,” said Mark Jones, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Supervising Wildlife Biologist for Private Lands.
The General CRP practice which offers the most potential to enhance early-successional habitat is “Permanent Wildlife Habitat,” practice CP-4D. This practice treats the field to be enrolled as a blank canvas. Native grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees can be established in proper proportion and arrangement to best fit specific wildlife species needs. More traditional food plot species can be established, without cost assistance, within the field on a limited basis using another practice called “Wildlife Food Plot,” CP-12. Also, fire breaks can be maintained in green vegetation such as wheat, oats, and clover.
CRP contracts are 10-year minimum agreements requiring habitat establishment and proper habitat maintenance conducted according to a conservation plan developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and with input from other agencies. Proper maintenance of early-successional habitat requires periodic disturbance such as prescribed burning or light disking, as well as spot treatment of undesirable vegetation.
The deadline for signing up is August 27. For more information, visit your local Farm Service Agency office.