Sun may set on conservation program

A forum dedicated to conservation issues and listings of conservation Orgs

Moderators: NV Guide, Dogman

Sun may set on conservation program

Postby h2ofwlr » Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:36 pm

This applies to ducks too as often the same grasslands are used.

---------------

Sun may set on conservation program
Sam Cook Duluth News Tribune
Published Sunday, July 27, 2008
http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/articl ... 1042473440

Be prepared to kiss your pheasants goodbye.

By now, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer may already have authorized farmers to opt out of their Conservation Reserve Program contracts early. His decision has been expected any day now for a couple of weeks.

Simply put, CRP is one of the most successful conservation programs to hit the prairies. Part of the Farm Bill, CRP reduces soil erosion while providing excellent grassland habitat for pheasants, nesting ducks and many songbird species.

With corn prices driven to lofty heights by demand for ethanol and corn-based foods, many farmers would love to convert some of their CRP lands back to corn or soybean production.

You can hardly blame a farmer for wanting to cash in on this demand, especially in light of today’s economy. One farmer I spoke with said he sold corn for $1.70 a bushel in 2006 and for $7.05 a bushel this summer. That’s real money.

But it will be a sad day if CRP dwindles to a remnant of the once-thriving program that saw farmers set aside production on millions of acres of land and grow native grasses instead. According to estimates by conservation groups such as Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League and more, CRP raises 2.2 million ducks and 13.5 million pheasants a year. That wildlife draws millions of hunters to rural America, where they spend billions of dollars in local economies.

The program’s benefits in retaining topsoil and helping prairie songbirds are less noticed by the average citizen but equally valuable on the landscape.

But in tough times, with high demand for corn, the handwriting is on the small-town elevator wall.

And taxpayers will get the short end of the stick, too. It’s our tax dollars from which farmers were paid to leave their acres out of production. Previously, if a farmer wanted out of his CRP contract, he had to give back his CRP payments, plus pay a penalty. If Schafer allows early-outs, farmers will not be required to pay back their CRP income, nor pay a penalty.

Conservation groups have lobbied the Secretary of Agriculture to leave CRP intact. Our pleas must seem self-serving: Of course, hunters would want CRP to continue. It means we’ll have more pheasants and ducks to hunt. To the farmer struggling to make ends meet, the hunter’s lament must seem pretty shallow.

But most hunters are conservationists deep down. If you have stood beside a field of switchgrass in a sea of CRP before dawn on an October morning listening to roosters cackle and flap, you have the sense that something is very right on the land. If you have watched the songbirds flitting through those same grasses, you knew that this was about more than hunting. If you have marveled at the tenacity of those grasses and imagined a time when they rolled to the horizon in every direction, you knew, intrinsically, that this had to be a good thing.

You appreciated the farmer who made it possible. You were happy to support it with your tax dollars.

And you will know, if the time comes when this program is prematurely curtailed, that something profound has been lost.

SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune outdoors writer and columnist. Reach him at (218) 723-53332 or scook@duluthnews.com.
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
"Typical: Gun-loving, bitter bible-thumping white person" Barack Obama.
Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
User avatar
h2ofwlr
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: "Buzz" at 8 months . Land of 10K polluted lakes


Postby WisconsinWaterfowler » Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:32 pm

Alright I want to know which idiot thought of the idea to burn our food source :rofl: no but seriously this is really sad I really hope that this doesnt go through
User avatar
WisconsinWaterfowler
hunter
 
Posts: 6087
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:02 pm
Location: Southern Wisconsin

Postby REDLEG » Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:21 pm

historical fact: the American farmer has always worked himself out of a job. anytime commodity prices go up every body jumps on the band wagon. there is more corn in south alabama than ive seen in 30 years. corn futures have already dropped to around 5.50+/-. i think everybody knows this ethenol thing is just a farce. it will last a few years then boom its over.
REDLEG
hunter
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:16 pm
Location: monroe county,AL

Postby TEAM WEBFOOTPOSSE » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:08 pm

weve always had lots of corn hear in NE but this year less beans more corn

while i was down in arkansas i saw less rice and more corn and beens
waterfowler20 wrote:
getemducks wrote:I am new to this but I think what you have there is a duck. :huh:

Are you crazy! That ain't no duck, thats one of'dem cackler gooses! :hi:
User avatar
TEAM WEBFOOTPOSSE
hunter
 
Posts: 1720
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:39 am
Location: Nebraska

Postby olddkguide » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:55 pm

Boy, I hope we don't lose CRP, it has really been a huge boost to bird production.
olddkguide
hunter
 
Posts: 668
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:50 am
Location: Georgia

Postby REDLEG » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:18 pm

what bothers me is that some species didnt respond to the optimal conditions we had on the breeding grounds during those good years with all the CRP. ie. Pintails that flew over lush wetlands to try to nest in last years dry wheat stubble in southern Alberta. i guess being imprinted has its down falls. Grey Duck and Teal thats a whole different story :thumbsup:
REDLEG
hunter
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:16 pm
Location: monroe county,AL

Postby h2ofwlr » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:30 am

Outdoors: Conservation lands won't be plowed ... for now
St Paul Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 07/30/2008 12:34:41 AM CDT
http://www.twincities.com/outdoors/ci_10036689


Ducks and pheasants dodged a missile Tuesday but may ultimately lose the war for grassland conservation.

Despite heavy pressure from farm and commodity groups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday backed away from a proposal allowing landowners to tear up their Conservation Reserve Program contracts without a financial penalty.

Conservation groups argued — successfully, it appears — that a contract is a contract and allowing landowners to withdraw would deal a premature blow to wildlife populations.

"I'm glad to hear it," said Kurt Haroldson, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife researcher in Madelia, Minn. "It will buy us a little more time, but I'm not optimistic about the long-term future of CRP, especially in the Dakotas."

Let's give Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer the kudos he deserves. He was under tremendous pressure to open the floodgates on CRP, given soaring crop prices and Wall Street's expectations for continued growth in agriculture stocks. Commodity groups said that floods and droughts this summer further hurt the country's efforts to meet corn and soybean demands.

But surprise, surprise — corn prices are down 25 percent from record high prices last month and America's corn crop is on track to be the second largest on record, Schafer said in a news conference Tuesday.

But Schafer is aware of another reality — enrollment in the nation's top conservation program will drop on its own because Congress wants it to.
Contracts on about 1.1 million acres, out of 34.7 million acres nationwide, will expire Sept. 30 and expire on another 3.8 million acres in 2009 and on another 4.4 million acres in 2010.

"So, large blocks of land will be available for other uses — if landowners choose to pursue them," Schafer said.

In Minnesota, Haroldson said the situation is serious, but how dire won't be known until landowners make their CRP decisions. The state lost about 52,000 acres of CRP last year out of nearly 1 million acres, but that was far less than was predicted. Contracts on another 99,000 acres are set to expire next year.

But on the positive side, landowners are quickly signing up for the State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, an alternative conservation program announced last winter in St. Paul. The state was capped at 23,000 of SAFE acres and "it appears we might sign up all our acres," Haroldson said.

In the end, "it doesn't appear we're losing the 300,000 acres (of CRP) like the Dakotas lost last year."

Still, Haroldson spent Tuesday mapping conservation areas in southwest Minnesota, and he's seeing a lot of CRP getting plowed under. "If those are pieces where you hunt, it's pretty significant." He added that the state's banner pheasant season of 2007, when 655,000 roosters were killed, will be difficult to duplicate without CRP.

Moreover, the corn crisis isn't over. Consumers are decrying the high prices of groceries, and the increased demand — albeit terribly misguided — for corn-based ethanol will continue to drive more pressure to produce corn.

Ducks Unlimited, which caters to duck hunters to be sure, is sounding evermore like a clean-water steward. The group issued a news release Tuesday, crediting CRP with conserving more than 470 million tons of topsoil and lessening agricultural runoff that has been linked to a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.

Haroldson's annual roadside counts for pheasants begin in a few weeks, and he is hopeful the survey will show bird numbers are strong. But he said hens are increasingly crowding into small chunks of habitat, thus producing fewer chicks.

"Unless we add significantly more habitat, it's hard to imagine we'll get more pheasants," he said.

In other words, the good old days of pheasant hunting may be here today and gone tomorrow.

Chris Niskanen can be reached at cniskanen@pioneerpress.com.
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
"Typical: Gun-loving, bitter bible-thumping white person" Barack Obama.
Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
User avatar
h2ofwlr
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: "Buzz" at 8 months . Land of 10K polluted lakes


Return to Conservation/Biology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests