Michigan DNR seeking environmentally sensitive lands for habitat restoration

Starting Monday, June 4, 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture will accept offers from rural landowners in 41 southern Michigan counties who want to voluntarily restore pollinator and wildlife habitat on their property. The solicitation is through the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), Southern Michigan Pheasant and Monarch Recovery, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Pheasants Forever, Inc.

“Any landowner in an eligible area is invited to visit their nearest Michigan USDA Service Center to learn about the Conservation Reserve Program and the pheasant and monarch recovery effort,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We will accept up to 40,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land for the program, and work closely with the USDA, partners and landowners to improve wildlife habitat.”

SAFE is a federally funded voluntary program that assists agricultural producers and landowners with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, participants are provided annual rental payments, cost-share assistance and other financial incentives.

Eligible Michigan counties include Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Bay, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Gladwin, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Mecosta, Midland, Monroe, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, Saginaw, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, St. Joseph, Tuscola, Van Buren and Washtenaw.

“Working with our partners at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources ensures producers have access to programs that continue to protect pollinators while ensuring agriculture is a sustainable business,” said USDA Farm Production and Conservation Under Secretary Bill Northey.

The additional 40,000 acres allotted for Southern Michigan Pheasant and Monarch Recovery are designed to increase diverse native grassland and wetland habitat for a variety of rare or declining species and species of significant social importance, including monarch butterfly, ring-necked pheasant, grasshopper sparrow, Henslow’s sparrow and mallard. The DNR identified these species and habitats as priorities in Michigan’s Wildlife Action Plan and the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative.

The Michigan CRP SAFE, Southern Michigan Pheasant and Monarch Recovery effort consists of three practice focuses: buffers, wetlands and grasses (practices CP38A, CP38B and CP38E).

Interested producers can find out more information from the Michigan DNR or from any USDA Farm Service Agency county office at http://offices.usda.gov.

To learn more about the Conservation Reserve Program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.

For information about how the DNR takes care of the state’s wildlife and habitat for the people of Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife.