Pheasant Hunting photo

And in related news to the new CRP sign-up, this story in the Grand Island (Nebraska) Independent highlights just how important the Conservation Reserve Program is to upland bird habitat.

_Nebraska has 1,092,760 acres under contract in the CRP. On Sept. 30, there will be 179,185 acres expiring from contracts or 16.4 percent of the total Nebraska acreage.

“Nebraska needs a strong enrollment in this program period to maintain the environmental benefits we have built in past years under the CRP,” said Steinkruger. The general sign-up will run through Aug. 27. Both Pheasants Forever and Quails Forever said the CRP sign-up is important to growing the state’s hunting industry. The new general CRP sign-up will be the first since 2006, and landowner demand is expected to be strong, especially considering the USDA has updated soil rental rates since that last general sign-up._
“CRP continues to be a good option for producers to ensure income on the tough-to-farm and lowest producing acres,” said Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs, “This general sign-up’s 4 million-plus acre nationwide allotment is likely to fill up quickly, so it’s critical that landowners get into their local USDA service centers immediately to examine CRP options on their land.” The new CRP general sign-up arrives in time to address the 4.4 million acres of CRP expiring on Sept. 30. It is also representative of USDA’s ongoing action to maximize the wildlife habitat and environmental benefits created via the program’s 25-year history.

In February, at Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced his pledge to keep CRP fully enrolled at the federally mandated (via the 2008 Farm Bill) maximum level of 32 million acres. With an additional 14.2 million acres of CRP slated to expire between 2011 and 2013, the new general sign-up is the critical first step, said Nomsen. CRP acres provide the top nationwide habitat component in producing pheasants. Just three years removed from record-setting pheasant harvests in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, hunters have been disappointed in the 6.5 million acres that left the Conservation Reserve Program without a general sign-up. America’s quail populations continue their rapid decline because of habitat losses.
How many of you depend on CRP ground for your bird hunting?