DNR wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says more CRP land is now eligible for what’s called the State Acres For wildlife Enhancement or SAFE program.
“Basically what they’ve done, nationwide there’s two-point-five million acres coming out — some of them are continuos, most of them are general. They made this announcement that they are going to target 700,000 of those acres toward the state safe practices,” Bogenschutz says. “That was great for Iowa because we have a couple of safe requests in. They basically gave us acres for all three of them.”
He says the SAFE program is designed to help particular species of wildlife. “It’s basically where there’s threatened and endangered species, a species that is declining significantly, or a species that’s economically important. States can come up with a targeted CRP practice to address one of those concerns, or any of those concerns,” Bogenschutz says.
He says Iowa has had success with its SAFE programs.”We have a gaining ground SAFE — which is targeted at grassland birds and pollinators — we have a pheasant recovery SAFE, and we just submitted a new quail SAFE — and they gave us additional acres for all three of those,” Bogenschutz says. He says until the recent announcement they didn’t know if any new CRP acres would be allowed to go into the program.
“Because we were at the cap people weren’t sure what was going to happen this coming year. If they were just going to have another sign up. SAFE’s been popular, but we can’t put any more in because the acres are all gone,” Bogenschutz says. “Now with this announcement people have an opportunity to get into SAFE. If you ‘ve got a contract that is expiring this year, you can re-enroll in that, which is going to probably make it better habitat than it was.” The sign up is underway and Bogenschutz urges you to not delay in getting signed up.
“Many people are expecting that these acres could be gone within a couple of weeks. There’s a lot of interest in CRP, a lot of people want to be in CRP and they can’t now that they’ve lowered the cap. So we expect it’s going to be very competitive, so if folks are interested in CRP, I recommend they get right into their local U.S.D.A. office, or contact one of our private land staff to get more info,” according to Bogenschutz.
The Iowa DNR has created a webpage for landowners to learn more about federal and state programs available to them. The webpage includes a list of DNR staff who are experts at connecting landowners with programs and writing land management plans that benefit the landowner, wildlife and improve water quality. There is also a link to FSA where landowners can find information about their local FSA office. The landowner assistance webpage is at www.iowadnr.gov/crp.