March 1, 2017—Kansas landowners and ag producers who have playas on their property may be eligible for a new USDA Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practice that provides a market-based financial incentive for restoring playas and planting a native grass buffer around them. The newly-established Migratory Bird, Butterfly, and Pollinator Habitat State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (Migratory Bird SAFE) practice uses a reverse auction whereby landowners submit an offer to enroll their playa for the amount they are willing to accept as an annual payment — up to a maximum amount of $300 per acre — for a period of 10-15 years.
This practice is entirely focused on conserving playas, a critical source of water for the wildlife and people in western Kansas. The name of the program gives a hint at how important these temporary wetlands are to the region’s wildlife, but playas also provide important benefits for the people who live in this region. Research shows 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.
USDA will evaluate submitted offers for the Migratory Bird SAFE in a competitive process. As a continuous CRP signup conservation practice, landowners can submit bids at any time, 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. To be considered in the first ranking, offers must be received by March 31, 2017.
Landowners and producers in Kearny, Hamilton, and Finney counties are invited to attend an informational workshop about the Migratory Bird SAFE on March 14 at 3 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Kearny County Library, located at 101 Prairie Avenue in Lakin, Kansas.
To learn more about playas and playa conservation programs, including the Migratory Bird SAFE, and to find USDA and partner staff who can provide assistance, visit PlayasWorkForKansas.com or contact a local USDA Service Center.