JOHANNS ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF WISCONSIN CONSERVATION RESERVE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM
WEST ALLIS, WIS., Aug. 4, 2005 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced an agreement to expand the Wisconsin Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) that will enhance efforts to improve water quality and increase wildlife habitat in a four-county area of the Lake Superior Basin.
"This agreement will help to improve water quality, as well as improve habitats for endangered and other wildlife species along the coast of Lake Superior," said Johanns. "These cooperative conservation efforts represent President Bush's ongoing commitment to promote a strong agricultural sector and cleaner waters along the largest Great Lake."
Johanns made the announcement during a USDA Farm Bill Forum being held today at the Wisconsin State Fair. The expansion to the Wisconsin CREP seeks to enroll up to 5,000 acres of the 100,000-acre total enrollment goal with the addition of Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron Counties. The goal of the expansion is to reduce peak runoff flow in critical areas of the Lake Superior Basin by 10 to 15 percent. Another goal is to improve water quality in Wisconsin's list of impaired waters and enhance wildlife habitats for endangered grassland birds and other wildlife species in two grassland project areas in north central and south central Wisconsin. Currently, the Wisconsin CREP includes more than 95 percent of the waters on the state's list of impaired waters that are affected by agricultural activities.
Launched in 2001, the Wisconsin CREP seeks to improve water resources impaired from agriculture-related activities and enhance wildlife habitat in up to 100,000 acres of environmentally sensitive areas. This is being achieved through the installation of 85,000 acres of riparian buffers and filter strips, and 15,000 acres of native grasses and wetlands. Restoring native grasses will increase the population of many species, primarily grassland birds (including the greater prairie chicken). The expected combined financial federal and state obligation for the Wisconsin CREP will be approximately $243 million over 15 years, with $198 million coming from the federal government and $45 million coming from the state. All acres enrolled in the Wisconsin CREP must meet specific eligibility requirements.
CREP agreements are a part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency. Under these agreements, federal and state resources are used to safeguard environmentally sensitive land through the enrollment of producers in CRP agreements for a period of 10 to 15 years. These producers remove land from agricultural production and plant native grasses, trees and other vegetation to improve water quality, soil and wildlife habitat.
More information about the Wisconsin CREP can be found on the USDA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/facts/html/crepwi01.htm.