Conservation Reserve Program general signup deadline nears

February 4, 2021

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds private landowners with unproductive cropland and an interest in controlling soil erosion, improving water quality, and enhancing wildlife habitat, of the Feb. 12 deadline for enrolling in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

The goal of the CRP is to establish long-term vegetative cover, namely grasses and trees, on environmentally sensitive lands. Landowners receive annual rental payments for participating in the program.

Although the CRP is one of the nation’s largest and longest-standing voluntary conservation programs, DNR forester Jake Froyum said many landowners aren’t aware it could work for them.

“From trees to bees, there’s a good chance a CRP practice can fit with an individual landowner’s goals,” Froyum said. He points to riparian buffers (Conservation Practice 22), hardwood tree plantings (Conservation Practice 3A), and diverse pollinator-friendly plantings (Conservation Practice 42) as specific practices well suited to southern Minnesota’s agricultural landscape.

For first-time or new landowners, enrolling in a conservation program can be intimidating. As a partnering agency, the DNR has foresters who assist landowners with conservation planning and CRP enrollment by working closely with the USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Landowners naturally have questions about acreage size, contracts, and the right conservation solution,” Froyum said. “We answer questions that help find the right programs to meet woodland or other conservation goals. Once a good program fit is found, DNR foresters write a project plan, providing the details to complete the project to CRP standards.”

Froyum notes that, even when land is ineligible for the CRP, going through the process often results in finding other state or federal conservation programs that prove to be the right fit.

For more information: public assistance for private woodland management.