Jan. 11, 2017—U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Kansas Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Adrian Polansky announced today that up to 10,000 acres will soon be able to be offered into the newly-established Conservation Reserve Program’s Migratory Bird, Butterfly, and Pollinator Habitat SAFE practice. Eligibility is limited to those landowners and ag producers who want to enhance existing playas or restore historic playas located within distinct priority areas of the state. There are more than 10,000 playas eligible for enrollment within the priority areas in Western Kansas.
“Research has shown that properly functioning playas are a primary source of recharge for the Ogallala Aquifer — contributing up to 95 percent of inflow to the aquifer and improving the quality of that water — and also provide critical habitat for migrating waterfowl, cranes and shorebirds. By restoring our playas, we can help them continue to work for the people and wildlife of Kansas — for generations to come”, said Polansky.
This SAFE practice, CP38B, is designed to provide private landowners a market-based financial incentive for restoring playas, the most common wetlands in the region. An innovative market-based approach for sign-up will enable landowners to submit bids of up to $300 per acre. Submitted bids are based upon landowner values in a competitive process.
The program allows for up to a maximum tract size of 160 acres. Mid-contract management practices to keep the cover healthy will be required. This includes the option for managed harvesting of the acres and/or prescribed grazing. Contracts will be for 10-15 years. SAFE is a continuous CRP signup conservation practice, but offers will be ranked at intervals. Offers that don’t make the first cut-off date, or aren’t accepted during the first batch, will be carried over for consideration during the next round.
The Migratory Bird SAFE is a grassroots, cooperative conservation effort that was jointly proposed by Playa Lakes Joint Venture and the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. It involves several partners including FSA and NRCS, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Ducks Unlimited, and Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams. These agencies, along with Kansas Farm Service Agency, are all available to work with producers interested in enrolling in the Migratory Bird, Butterfly, and Pollinator Habitat SAFE.