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Continued: Smith: In face of widespread habitat loss, conservation fight continues

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 18, 2013 - 9:26 PM

A big question that will be answered starting next week is whether CRP will pay enough to entice landowners to enroll in the program.

“Even with $7 [a bushel] corn, there’s still a place on every farm for conservation and CRP,” Nomsen said. “We’ll see what happens.”

He pointed to a recent report that this year’s corn harvest could be 30 percent above last year’s, which could drive corn prices down sharply, prompting some landowners to enroll in CRP.

So far, Nomsen said, there has been little discussion about the social impacts over the loss of so much land and water protection and wildlife habitat. In South Dakota, hunting is a $250 million-a-year industry, and thousands of Minnesotans flock there each fall to chase ringnecks.

But they may stay home if pheasants become as scarce as they are in Iowa, where the pheasant harvest fell from 1 million in 2003 to 100,000 in 2011.

Meanwhile, Nomsen said conservation-minded people and groups like Pheasants Forever must continue to fight for wildlife habitat.

“We have to be more proactive, creative and aggressive,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and let this happen.”

 

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

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  • Wetland drainage in North Dakota has accelerated, as this photo taken last fall indicates. Conservationists say there’s widespread loss of wildlife habitat occurring across the prairie pothole region.

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