The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting new and modified proposals from conservation partners for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative, a part of the Conservation Reserve Program focused on effectively managing wildlife habitat.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency  has expanded available practices under this initiative in response to feedback from partners, according to a news release from the Maine’s state Farm Service Agency in Bangor.

“We are committed to offering a strong suite of voluntary conservation options through the Conservation Reserve Program,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “In 2021, we made several updates to CRP to improve program participation and strengthen its climate benefits. As we work to build on those efforts, we’re now encouraging producers to help us strengthen the wildlife benefits of CRP through our SAFE initiative. We encourage government entities, nonprofits, and other groups to take advantage of this unique opportunity to help us manage wildlife habitat, and we are committed to supporting and working with our partners to meet high-priority state conservation goals.”

Through the initiative, producers and landowners restore vital habitat in alignment with high-priority state wildlife conservation goals. Specifically, landowners establish wetlands, grasses and trees. These practices are designed to enhance important wildlife populations by creating critical habitat and food sources. They also protect soil and water health by working as a barrier to sediment and nutrient run-off before they reach waterways.

To help improve the planning and implementation of the SAFE initiative, FSA is adding two new practices with the assistance of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, FSA’s sister agency. In partnership with FSA, NRCS employees across the country provide CRP participants with critical conservation planning assistance, which will now include managing for early successional habitat cover establishment or management, and wildlife habitat planting. These additional eligible practices will enable SAFE partners to better target a wide variety of wildlife species, such as the Northern bobwhite, lesser prairie-chicken, and the New England cottontail.

As part of this year’s SAFE signup, FSA will also authorize cost-share assistance for producers who would like to re-enroll acres in CRP but need assistance updating their vegetative cover to align with NRCS practice standards for early successional habitat or wildlife planting.

Eligible entities for SAFE include government entities, non-profits, and private organizations.

Additionally, partners with SAFE projects with both General and Continuous CRP practices must submit modified proposals to continue in the program. New and modified proposals for SAFE projects must be submitted to FSA state offices in June.

Those interested can contact their state office for the state-specific deadline at fsa.usda.gov. More information on developing proposals is available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

filed under: