On October 17th, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senators John Thune (SD) and Amy Klobuchar (MN), along with 15 other Senators, 13 of which are CSC Members, submitted a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue encouraging the renewed inclusion of the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program in future continuous CRP sign-ups.
SAFE is a CRP program that was introduced in 2008 and is designed to allow local and regional conservation groups, government agencies, agricultural producers, and others to design projects and practices that help target high-priority wildlife species and their habitat requirements. Unlike general CRP programs, SAFE sign-ups occur during the continuous CRP (CRP) application periods. At that time, all eligible applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as acres are available. This process expedites conservation efforts on environmentally sensitive lands.
Since first offered, SAFE has benefitted more than 2 million acres of wildlife habitat across the U.S. Unfortunately, due to previous acreage caps and USDA’s decisions that limited the number of available CRP practices, there has not been a nationwide SAFE sign-up period since 2017 despite the enormous popularity of the program. Without including SAFE in future continuous CRP sign-up periods, many acres currently enrolled in the program may see contracts expire. Senators Thune and Klobuchar and their peers, recognize the important benefits that CRP programs like SAFE provide not only to our wildlife, but also for our farmers and the sportsmen’s community. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) appreciates their efforts to encourage Secretary Perdue and the USDA to include SAFE in future CRP sign-ups. For more information on the SAFE program, click here.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?