Landowners with Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts that expire on Sept. 30 have the opportunity to re-enroll acreage without competing in the general CRP sign-up, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
CRP is a land conservation program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Many choices are available to landowners for automatic acceptance back into CRP through the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP).
Landowners statewide may enroll whole or partial fields in the pollinator habitat practice and establish wildflowers. These wildflowers are important for bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. Pollinator species are a vital component for Ohio’s agricultural crops.
Landowners in the Lake Erie watershed may enroll land into the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Available land options include wetlands, grass buffers and windbreaks. Annual rental payment bonuses are available.
Landowners who have CRP in targeted counties may enroll in the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). Ohio has two SAFE programs: Grasslands and Wetlands Complexes focuses on maintaining and establishing quality habitat in areas where wildlife species are declining, and Pheasant SAFE focuses on vital grassland habitat for upland birds. Whole fields may be enrolled in either SAFE.
Field edges may be enrolled into the quail buffer program statewide. These buffers provide cover and food for upland birds and many other species of wildlife.
Wetlands may also be restored through CCRP. Many wildlife species are dependent on wetland habitat, but Ohio has lost nearly 90 percent of its original wetlands. No other practice will attract as diverse a group of wildlife to a person’s property as building a wetland. Annual rental payment bonuses are available for most wetland programs.
Some programs offer an additional bonus of 40 percent on top of the 50 percent cost-share to establish habitat. Conservation practices not only create wildlife habitat, but also reduce soil erosion and improve the water quality of Ohio’s streams, rivers and lakes.
Landowners are encouraged to contact an ODNR Division of Wildlife private lands biologist for expert guidance on CCRP options. Landowners can also find more information from the FSA.