USDA approves grouse conservation project

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a Washington conservation project under the Conservation Reserve Program called State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement, or SAFE.

In Douglas County, 38,000 acres will be allocated to a new SAFE initiative for sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. Local producers now can voluntarily preserve and restore important habitat and provide additional benefits for sage grouse, which rely on private lands. Research in Douglas County shows that more than half of sage grouse nesting activity occurs in participating Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land, according to the USDA.

The USDA has 86 approved SAFE projects in 35 states covering up to 650,000 acres.

Landowners interested in enrolling land in SAFE should visit their local FSA service center. Under CRP, farmers and ranchers enroll eligible land in 10- to 15-year contracts with USDA's Commodity Credit Corp.