Katie Hafner, NFWF Soil Conservationist
The national Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP-general sign up deadline has currently been extended without a cut-off date. Landowners who are interested in enrolling should contact the Farm Service Agency office in their county. The long-time goal of CRP is to convert crop ground into permanent vegetation letting the ground rest, the soil recover, and create wildlife habitat. The program provides annual rental payments per acre as well as 50% cost share to establish the cover. Currently for 2021 sign ups, there is no cost share available for the 2026 mid-contract activity that is meant to restore diversity to the planting. Contracts are generally 10 years.
While this program is competitive, offers are ranked based on different factors. Planting a variety of native grasses and wildflowers or adding a permanent component like trees can score higher points and better the chances of getting accepted.
While there is some cost share to help participants establish the grass, there is another opportunity to get seed and planting costs paid for.
The Hunting Access Program, or HAP, is a statewide program run by the Michigan DNR and managed through the local conservation district offices. HAP provides financial incentives to private landowners who allow hunters access to their lands. Landowners can choose the game species, seasons, and number or hunters who are able to enter the property. The DNR is currently accepting new land offers in Clinton County; interested landowners interested should contact the Clinton Conservation District. Contracts generally are annually renewed.
Did you know that CRP land can also be enrolled in HAP? Crop ground that is converted to grasses through CRP and is receiving an annual rental payment from USDA can also receive an additional annual payment if it is in the HAP program. CRP contracts allow for 50% cost share reimbursement for establishment. But, if that field also allows for some public hunting, the DNR can also reimburse some leftover expenses. Also, HAP ground can also receive reimbursement for the mid-contract activity that would normally be up to the landowner to complete.
This opportunity is not only for new CRP ground or applications, current and long time contracts are also eligible to participate in both programs.