Grass and pheasants!

Well this might be a little different blog than the rest and not nearly as fun and exciting but just read today that the sign-up for the new Highly Erodible Land Initiative under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) opened on Monday July 23, 2012.  The program will protect up to 750,000 acres nationwide which are considered highly erodible (those having an erodibility index of 20 or greater).  Another new initiative to Restore Grasslands, Wetlands and Wildlife was announced back in March.  That program is open to increase CRP by an additional 1 million acres nationwide and should have significant benefits for pheasant, quail ducks and pollinators as well.

USDA-FSA News Release

Being a native of eastern Iowa, I grew up hunting the often elusive Ring-necked pheasant which lately has become somewhat of a mythical creature near home.  With the harsh winters and wet springs of recent years I haven’t really had the heart to take a shot at one in the last few.   The Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever are certainly getting my hopes up for this year forecasting a predicted population increase of 40% and “the first statewide population increase in more than six years”!

In addition to wildlife habitat, such programs are an essential tool to reduce soil erosion and prevent the influx of lost nutrients into our streams, rivers and lakes.  Here’s a look at the historical amount of CRP acres in Iowa if you’re interested:

For more information on Iowa pheasant populations visit IDNR Pheasant Nesting Outlook, and a good Iowa Pheasant fact sheet can be found here:

http://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/wildlife/pheasant_whatweknow.pdf

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