The Enhanced Grazing Lands and Wildlife Habitat program, funded through North Dakota's Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF), is helping North Dakota landowners maintain 11,000 acres of expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands and other grasslands. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Ducks Unlimited partnered to enroll landowners in this program in 2015-2016 using a core set of NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) practices. The program offers enhanced grazing and habitat management incentives to transition lands at high-risk of conversion, to working lands for grazing and improved wildlife habitat.
Nearly two million acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands have expired across North Dakota, and another 515,000 acres will expire over the next five years. Once these contracts expire, landowners have few conservation options or incentives to keep restored grasslands intact if they are not able to reenroll in CRP.
This OHF funded program is unique and innovative, in that it brings together public and private agencies to work with private landowners to achieve a common goal. Landowners will also be able to enroll in a North Dakota Game and Fish Department Working Lands Program to increase public access on approximately 2,500 acres.
The program will enhance critical migratory bird, upland and big game habitat on private lands while enhancing public recreational opportunities for sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts. Focus areas for this program include North Dakota counties north and east of the Missouri River. To date, 92 percent of the grant funds have been awarded through 92 agreements with 63 individual private landowners. DU and our partners anticipate completing this two-year project by the end of 2017.
Read about a landowner who is benefiting from this program.