July 8, 2008

Wildlife Enhancement Funds Available to Farms

By Mary Hopkin, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.

Jul. 7--Farmers in Franklin County can receive rental payments and other incentives for improving wildlife habitat on their lands.

A portion of the Columbia Basin is one of four areas in Washington approved for a new wildlife initiative through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program.

The initiative, called State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, or SAFE, aims to benefit wildlife and at-risk species associated with agriculture, like the ring-necked pheasant, quail, burrowing owl and the Washington ground squirrel, officials said. The goal is to restore or enhance about 8,200 acres.

The program targets four Washington State habitats: Roosevelt Elk on the Olympic Peninsula; shrub steppe in parts of Grant, Lincoln and Okanogan counties; Palouse prairie in Whitman County and field edges along about 500 acres of irrigated cropland in Adams, Franklin and Grant counties.

In the Palouse, up to 2,000 acres will be enrolled in northern and eastern Whitman County to improve and increase habitat for a variety of species.

Cooperating landowners will receive incentives and rental payments in return for contracts to provide specific wildlife habitat.

Agricultural producers can submit offers to voluntarily enroll acres in the acres for wildlife program for 10-15 years with the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation.

The land to be enrolled must have a history of being used to grow crops to be eligible and it must be within the project area.

For more information about the program, call the Pasco office at 545-8543 or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at 545-2012.

* On the Net: www.fsa. usda.gov


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