The loss of lands enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program threatens to wipe out hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat in Minnesota, the Dakotas and elsewhere.
Because of sky-high commodity prices, farmers have been pulling their acres from CRP so they can plant corn or soybeans. CRP has been acclaimed as one of the greatest conservation programs in history, yet now its future is in doubt.
Minnesota has about 1.5 million acres of private grasslands enrolled in the program, but contracts for 823,000 acres – a land area larger than Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka counties combined - will expire over the next five years. Contracts for about 300,000 acres will expire this year.
That spells major trouble for wildlife such as pheasants, ducks and songbirds, and it could impact soil and water quality
So Thursday, state and federal officials held a conference call for reporters. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Chief of the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, Dave White, and Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources Executive Director John Jaschke fielded questions.
“We are at a crossroads with grasslands in Minnesota,’’ Landwehr said. “The loss of CRP will have devastating impacts on prairie wildlife. We want to work with state and federal agencies, landowners and the conservation community to find a solution.”
White said the U.S. Senate may consider a new farm bill next month, but he expects a drastically reduced program. Still, he was hopeful.
“I think we can adapt through better targeting and precision conservation,’’ he said. “We have to be more creative.’’
Jaschke said the same thing: “In near future and maybe longer, we will have less (CRP) acres on the landscape. The challenge is to focus on quality instead of quantity, he said.
More from Star Tribune
More from Doug Smith
The DNR says members of the committee will contribute to the broader understanding of biological, social and economic aspects of the lake
The Department of Natural Resources will have field testing stations in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Stearns, Swift and Todd counties.
Results mirror results in Minnesota, South Dakota.
Previously, the DNR said it would wait until an annual fall walleye survey was complete on Mille Lacs before determing whether winter walleye fishing could begin Dec. 1.
Deadline to apply is Sept. 24
Recommended For You
Sixty percent of those who took part in recent focus groups said they plan to leave the state in the next three to five years.
Joe Mauer's past few months have been ruined by the strained quads he suffered in Atlanta on Aug. 16, while scoring from first base on a double.
Charlotte police released dramatic video Saturday that shows officers with guns drawn surrounding a black man with his hands at his side before shots are fired and he buckles and falls. It's unclear if there was anything in the man's hands in the footage, which has done little to assuage his relatives.
Carolyne Giancola knew how to take “no” for an answer, but she says her bosses didn’t. When she worked as lead teller at the Elliot…
With Shannon Brooks healthy, Rodney Smith continuing his roll and Mitch Leidner moving better than he has in two years, the Gophers used a potent running attack to defeat Colorado State 31-24 on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.