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ENVIRO-NEWS  June 2011

ENVIRO-NEWS June 2011

Subject:

USDA Announces New Recreational, Fishing and Hunting Opportunities in Rural Areas, Enrollment of 2.8 Million Acres for Conservation Reserve Program Announced

From:

"Makuch, Joseph" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Makuch, Joseph

Date:

Mon, 20 Jun 2011 09:58:25 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (129 lines)

USDA
Release No. 0250.11
Contact:
Isabel Benemelis (202) 720-7809
 
USDA Announces New Recreational, Fishing and Hunting Opportunities in
Rural Areas

Enrollment of 2.8 Million Acres for Conservation Reserve Program
Announced; 8 Additional States and one Tribe Approved for Voluntary
Public Access Program
 

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today
announced developments in two popular USDA programs that will support
conservation of working lands for the benefit of wildlife, water
quality, and recreation. The Secretary announced that USDA will accept
2.8 million acres offered by landowners under the 41st Conservation
Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. The selections preserve and
enhance environmentally sensitive lands while providing payments to
property owners. Additionally, USDA has approved eight additional states
and one tribal government to participate in the Voluntary Public Access
and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which encourages private
landowners to provide public access to their lands for
wildlife-dependant recreational opportunities, including fishing and
hunting.

"USDA is committed to enhancing the great conservation legacy of our
nation's hunters and anglers to benefit current and future generations,"
said Vilsack. "VPA-HIP and the CRP not only help achieve conservation
goals, but also increase opportunities for hunting, fishing and other
wildlife-dependant recreational activities by providing additional
access to privately held lands. CRP assists private landowners and
producers as they voluntarily protect their most environmentally
sensitive lands."

For this 41st general CRP sign-up, more than 38,000 offers were received
on about 3.8 million acres nationwide. Enrollment of the 2.8 million
acres will bring the total enrollment in the program to 29.9 million
acres, leaving sufficient room under the 32-million-acre cap to continue
enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, continuous
sign-up and other CRP initiatives. The Secretary has asked FSA to
continue to consider ways to use continuous enrollments to ensure CRP
contains those lands that are most erodible, most valuable to wildlife
or that otherwise ensure the program targets the most vulnerable acres.

Under CRP, farmers and ranchers plant grasses and trees in crop fields
and along streams or rivers. The plantings reduce soil and prevent
nutrients washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise
contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat
for wildlife. The CRP has restored more than two million acres of
wetlands and associated buffers and reduced soil erosion by more than
400 million tons per year.

USDA selected offers for enrollment based on an Environmental Benefits
Index (EBI) comprised of five environmental factors plus cost. The five
environmental factors were: (1) wildlife enhancement, (2) water quality,
(3) soil erosion, (4) enduring benefits and (5) air quality. The minimal
acceptable EBI level for this sign-up was 221.

The average rental rate per acre for this sign-up is about $48. USDA
implemented a number of measures including using additional EBI point
incentives for producers to submit cost-effective offers and producer
outreach activities to encourage competitive offers on the most
environmentally sensitive lands. These measures will maintain the high
environmental benefits while decreasing the historic cost of the
program.

With today's VPA-HIP announcement, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana,
New Hampshire, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming join Arizona, Colorado,
Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska,
North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and
Wisconsin as states participating in the program. Also participating are
the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. The total amount
of VPA-HIP funds to be obligated in 2011 is $17.8 million with $4.6
million of that total being allocated as part of today's announcement.

The VPA-HIP program expands existing efforts or develops new initiatives
to encourage owners and operators of privately held farm, ranch and
forest land to voluntarily provide public access for the enjoyment of
wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting or fishing, in exchange
for financial incentives or other assistance under programs implemented
by state or tribal governments. VPA-HIP is a competitive grants program
that is only available to state and tribal governments. Funding may be
used to expand existing public access programs, create new public access
programs or provide incentives to improve wildlife habitat on enrolled
lands.

Up to $50 million is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill through VPA-HIP
through fiscal year 2012. State and tribal grant recipients use the
federal funding to provide additional landowner incentives or assistance
in order to increase the number of acres available for public access.

To learn more about CRP, visit your FSA county office or online at
www.fsa.usda.gov/crp .

For more information on VPA-HIP, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/vpa .

#

To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant
Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil
Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC
20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800)
877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800)
845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay). USDA is an equal opportunity provider,
employer and lender.

#

[USDA news releases are available in the "Newsroom" section at
http://www.usda.gov/ .]

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Library.  The center's Web site is at
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The Enviro-News list facilitates information exchange.
Inclusion of an item in Enviro-News does not imply
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the item. See
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You can contact the list owner at
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