FSA Allocates an Additional 400,000 Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Initiative

COLLEGE STATION, April 24, 2012 - USDA Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Executive Director, James B. Douglass today announced that FSA has allocated an additional 400,000 acres nationwide to the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program that improves habitat for high-priority wildlife species.

“SAFE is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides an opportunity for grassroots conservation partners to develop related projects to address high priority wildlife needs through habitat restoration,” said Douglass.

SAFE project area proposals are being accepted for the purpose of improving habitats for the designated wildlife species in new areas as well as possibly expanding current SAFE project areas by requesting additional acreage. SAFE project sponsors must submit all project proposals as soon as possible as the State Technical Committee is scheduled to complete the proposal review process on May 23, 2012.

The Texas FSA State Committee will complete the final review and submit recommended proposals to the National FSA Office for final evaluation no later than June 1, 2012.

Various conservation practices currently offered under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are fine-tuned through the SAFE proposal to improve, connect or create higher-quality wildlife habitats by promoting healthier ecosystems in the project areas identified as essential to the effective management of high priority wildlife species.

Douglass added, “Once a project proposal is approved and acreage allocated, the SAFE program is implemented through a continuous CRP signup allowing USDA to accept producer acreage offers year-round.”

As with other Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiatives, the land and producer must meet certain eligibility requirements. Once approval of the SAFE project is announced, interested landowners can submit offers to voluntarily enroll qualifying acres in a SAFE project/CRP contract for a term of 10 to 15 years. In exchange, SAFE/CRP program participants receive annual rental payments, project incentives and cost-share assistance to establish habitat-enhancing natural covers on eligible land.

According to Douglass, Texas currently has 76,376 acres across the state enrolled in existing SAFE program project areas benefitting targeted wildlife species including the Lesser Prairie Chicken, the Ocelot and the Mottled Duck as well as other wildlife species that are present in the enhanced habitat.

Completed SAFE project proposals can be submitted to the Texas State FSA office via email to Gaye.DeLeon@tx.usda.gov or Micky.Woodard@tx.usda.gov. For additional SAFE project area details or other questions, please contact your local FSA Office or visit the website at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov ; click on “Conservation Programs.”

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