DU program for grazing expired CRP

Ducks Unlimited (DU) has announced a new program to cost-share water and fencing projects with North Dakota ranchers on expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. Under the Grassland Partnership Program (GPP), DU will provide 50 percent of the cost, up to $3,500, for various water projects and up to $2,000 per mile for new fencing. Eligible water projects are targeted to the Missouri Couteau region of the state and include new wells and other permanent water projects that benefit range livestock.

According to DU Director of Conservation Programs Jim Ringelman, some expiring CRP acres may be easily modified to handle grazing livestock. "Most of North Dakota's ducks nest in privately owned pastureland and raise their young on nearby potholes and stockdams," Ringelman said. "If the livestock industry can use expired CRP for grazing, there will be value for ducks as well."

Other sources of help in using CRP for grazing include the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service and ND Game and Fish. These agencies also have programs for grazing land that has formerly been in CRP.

To qualify for the DU program, the expiring CRP must be located in North Dakota's priority duck nesting areas, which includes portions of McIntosh, Logan, Kidder, Wells, Sheridan, eastern McLean, Stutsman, Ward, Mountrail, Burke and Divide counties. A map of these areas and an application for the program are available online or by calling Paul Bultsma at 701-355-3528. DU's program reimburses landowners after the project is completed.

Bultsma, DU's biologist for grazing programs, urges livestock producers to contact DU or its partner in this program, the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust. "We want to help as many ranchers as we can," Bultsma said. "The only thing we ask is that landowners agree to maintain the improvements and keep the land as pasture for at least 10 years. That way everyone recoups their investment."

Landowners can obtain more details on the program by contacting Bultsma at 701-355-3528 or pbultsma@ducks.org.