State marks 20 years of CRP with Dickinson Co. tour

The Kansas Farm Service Agency celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program June 7 in Dickinson County.

Several dignitaries offered comments about the impact of the CRP Program: Larry Adams, FSA assistant deputy administrator; Bill R. Fuller, state executive director of Kansas FSA; Harold Klaege, state conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service’ Mike Hayden, secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; and Scott Carlson, assistant director of the State Conservation Commission.

As the original co-sponsor of legislation creating the CRP, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, represented by Ag Assistant for Kansas Mel Thompson, discussed the history of CRP.

The Food Security Act of 1985 created the Conservation Reserve Program to restore and enhance the country’s natural resources. CRP is a voluntary long-term cropland retirement program for highly erodible or environmentally sensitive land.

Participants receive annual rental payments for the 10- to 15-year life of the contract, along with cost-share funds to establish practices.

The Dickinson County tour included four sites:

Dwight and Marvel Meuli welcomed the tour to a CP21 Filter Strip site planted to bromegrass in 2002. Steve Swaffar, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, informed the audience this practice could cut sediment in surface runoff as much as 90 percent and enhance wildlife.

The toured moved to a CP33 Upland Bird Habitat Buffer owned by Kevin and Lynne Murphy that was planted this spring. Roger Wells, Quail Unlimited, provided the history of the practice that was first available in October 2004.

Jim Pitman, KDWP Wildlife Biologist, told the audience buffers will significantly increase the Northern Bobwhite Quail population by providing nesting and brood-rearing cover.

Richard Townsend welcomed the tour to a CP15B Contour Grass Strip on Terraces enrolled in 2002. Townsend and Jon Ungerer, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, outlined the wildlife benefits and erosion reduction.

The last CRP site, owned by John Betz, was a CP25 Rare and Declining Habitat. Betz said that this practice allowed him to return the field to the original condition left by Native Indians.

David Nomsen, representing Pheasants Forever, discussed the wildlife benefits of the practice while standing among wildflower-grass mixture planted in 2005.

CRP has become the largest conservation program on private lands in America.

“The popularity of CRP is a result of the broad support from agricultural, conservation, wildlife, water quality, and other natural resource interests,” said Fuller.

“The involvement of many CRP partners, both government agencies and private organizations, have contributed to the growth and utilization of this important program,” he added.

Bill Harmon, executive director of the FSA office in Marion County, attended the state celebration. He said a tour is being planned for Marion County, probably in September.

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