Categorized | Agriculture, News

Conservation program targets wildlife habitat, wetlands, forests

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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) have entered into an agreement to protect coastal and stream water quality, improve wildlife habitat, and restore native forests and wetlands.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) includes the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai and Oahu. The goal is to enroll up to 15,000 acres of marginal pastureland and cropland that will be converted to native areas.

This agreement is aimed at improving water quality in stream systems, increasing groundwater recharge, restoring native species habitats and forests, controlling the spread of invasive species, and enhancing near shore coastal and coral reef health through land-based management, DLNR chairwoman Laura H. Thielen said.

DLNR will lead the program with assistance from state Department of Agriculture and Department of Health, as well as support from the University of Hawaii system, local Watershed Partnerships and other organizations. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the project working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and DLNR.

“Partnerships formed through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will create an umbrella that allows conservation partners to be more effective throughout the state,” Thielen said. “It supplies one of the missing pieces needed for conservation support on agricultural lands.”

Under the Hawaii CREP, participants will receive annual rental payments, cost-share reimbursement payments, as well as other one-time incentive payments from CCC and the state for voluntarily enrolling land in the program and installing conservation practices.

“The program gives agricultural producers an opportunity and flexibility to manage their land and fulfill stewardship goals that will set the foundations for better land use and returns,” said Paul Conry, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife administrator. 

The total cost of the 20-year program is estimated at $67 million. The USDA will contribute 80 percent ($53.6 million) of the funds; the state’s 20 percent ($13.4 million) contribution will come from the Forest Stewardship Special Fund as allocated during the 2006 legislative session.

“The Hawaii CREP project will bring federal monies in support of conservation that will not only benefit agricultural producers but also the general public through improvement in the state’s natural resources,” Conry said.

Landowners will be asked to commit to 15-year contracts and there is a 5-year enrollment period in which landowners can sign up.

The signup date for this program is expected to be announced soon. 

— Find out more:

Department of Land and Natural Resources: www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/crep

One Response to “Conservation program targets wildlife habitat, wetlands, forests”

  1. Trinidad A. Williams says:

    Your on-line newsletter made available on Facebook is a current flash heartbeat alerts to what is happening in Hawaii ~ besides’ the people interest articles-alerts I like the Environment – Agricultural – Government Land Management categories which should be of great interest to the people-public’s awareness … the rarest blessings’ Hawaii has.

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