On Friday at the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy in Reno, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced that USDA would offer farmers and ranchers incentives to open land in the Conservation Reserve Program to public hunting, fishing, bird watching and other recreational activities. The decision came on a directive from President Bush.
"The President is committed to enhancing support of habitat conservation by offering public access to Conservation Reserve Program land," Schafer said. "The Conservation Reserve Program is the largest public-private partnership for conservation and wildlife habitat in the nation and we expect robust participation in this initiative. It will provide better access and allow more efficient management of game populations while allowing CRP participants to continue to provide vital environmental benefits such as improving air and water quality, enhancing wildlife habitat and reducing erosion."
USDA will be providing a $3 an acre incentive payment to CRP contract holders who enroll their land in a state public access program. The goal is to double public access by providing 7 million acres of CRP land in the next five years.