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Land Conservation Program Celebrates 25 Years of Creating and Protecting Wildlife Habitat Protection

Secretary Vilsack announced there will be a CRP sign-up beginning March 14, with a goal of enrolling 4 million acres.

Secretary Vilsack announced there will be a CRP sign-up beginning March 14, with a goal of enrolling 4 million acres.

It’s not every day that a civil servant gets to feel like a rock star.

But at the 2011 National Pheasant Fest in Omaha, Nebraska this past weekend, employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) were a bit like celebrities to thousands of hunters and land managers who love pheasants. Pheasant Fest is a trade show that focuses on wildlife conservation, upland game bird hunting and wildlife habitat management and restoration.

The source of all of the excitement was the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is administered by FSA, with technical assistance offered by NRCS. Through CRP, landowners can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to convert environmentally sensitive cropland to native grass and flowers.

It turns out that CRP has a lot of fans, and USDA employees got to bask in the CRP limelight as Pheasant Fest celebrated the program and its 25th anniversary.

Since its beginning 25 years ago, CRP has had a tremendous impact on wildlife. About 31 million acres of land are enrolled in the program, creating habitat for quail, prairie chickens and, of course, pheasants.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack attended Pheasant Fest on Friday, Jan. 28. While there, he made the announcement that CRP will have another sign-up in 2011, with the goal of signing up an additional four million acres.

During his remarks, Vilsack said, “Not only has CRP contributed to the national effort to improve water and air quality, it has preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff. Today’s announcement continues the Obama Administration’s effort to conserve sensitive areas and improve wildlife habitat.”

Secretary Vilsack made the CRP 2011 sign-up announcement with a dozen landowners seated behind him on the stage. The landowners were a part of a milestone recently achieved in Nebraska – over three million acres of habitat restored across the state.

These acres were developed using conservation dollars provided in partnership between Pheasants Forever and NRCS, FSA, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Nebraska natural resources districts and others.

Now that’s something to crow about.

For more information on CRP, visit our website.

Check out more conservation stories on the USDA blog.

Follow NRCS on Twitter.

Secretary Tom Vilsack visits the NRCS exhibit during Pheasant Fest. Left to right: Anna Ferguson, NRCS resource conservationist; Jim Lott, NRCS resource conservationist; Secretary Vilsack; Bill Gilg, NRCS resource conservationist; Craig Derickson, NRCS Nebraska state conservationist; and Joanna Pope, NRCS Nebraska state public affairs officer.

Secretary Tom Vilsack visits the NRCS exhibit during Pheasant Fest. Left to right: Anna Ferguson, NRCS resource conservationist; Jim Lott, NRCS resource conservationist; Secretary Vilsack; Bill Gilg, NRCS resource conservationist; Craig Derickson, NRCS Nebraska state conservationist; and Joanna Pope, NRCS Nebraska state public affairs officer.

One Response to “Land Conservation Program Celebrates 25 Years of Creating and Protecting Wildlife Habitat Protection”

  1. IE Ries says:

    You have GOT to be joking, Secretary Vilsack!
    The sheer impudence of the USDA to post an article like one this one – parading around like a great conservation agency – in light of recent mass bird deaths caused by none other than your agency, coupled with the annual posting of the number and species USDA annual kills in its “Species Taken by Wildlife Services” is greatly distressing and disturbing. The “Species Taken By Wildlife Services” (‘extermination unit’ would be more accurate than ‘service’) document reads much like a deranged hunter’s list of shooting victims. Over 56,000 wild animals were poisoned, trapped, and otherwise dispatched by USDA workers in 2009 alone, and yet your article claims USDA is a benevolent conservation agency?
    (reference: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/prog_data/2009_prog_data/PDR_G_FY09/Basic_Tables_PDR_G/Table_G_FY2009_Short.pdf )
    It is outrageous and absurd that USDA has become an “exterminator for hire,” massacring thousands and thousands of birds and other animals annually in United States .
    Then there is the matter of the recent avian holocaust and massacre across several states that the USDA was notably slow to acknowledge and for which it appeared loathe to claim due responsibility. It’s unacceptable that it took the USDA weeks to publicly acknowledge its part in the mass, cruel and painful poisonings of target and non-target avians and only after Americans started voicing genuine concerns and demands for information.
    What’s MOST disturbing here, however, is that USDA officials then quietly admitted that this horrendous poisoning “program” has been going on for decades, depopulating lands of wildlife – as if the present rate of human habitat destruction wasn’t fast enough for the likes of those who request the massacres.
    The USDA’s public response to media inquiries seemed callously ambivalent and indifferent to the cruelty it inflicts on wildlife, seemingly forgetting, too, that many children saw writhing, agonized birds raining down from the sky to die in abject pain.
    The agency obviously withheld from state agencies, law enforcement and the media until the last bloody minute when the USDA was literally forced to accept responsibility for this disgusting act of violence against other species, and then only because Americans demanded that information!
    The USDA lost any shred of credibility it might have had with the revelation of cruel victimization of America’s wildlife, acting like a paid-for-hire exterminating service.
    And then the news broke that agency sold out to corporate agribusiness, promoting GMO foods (notably alfalfa) down the throats of Americans (who aren’t thrilled with the idea, in case you didn’t know). Does this agency have no shame? In whose interests is this agency operating, may I ask? Certainly not the interests of Americans!
    USDA deserves to be closed, staff sacked (and that includes you, too, Mr Secretary!), and reopened staffed with people who can and will offer REAL solutions, not “cheap and easy” mass exterminations of wildlife because someone arbitrarily decides is “in the way” or by selling out to corporate interests and profiteers.
    Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet, Mr. Secretary, the American public is watching very closely and guess what? We’re not as oblivious as you might imagine, we’re not happy with the USDA’s performance, and we DO have something to say about it!

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