USDA Colorado Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Trudy Kareus today announced that FSA has allocated an additional 400,000 acres nationwide to the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program that improves habitat for high-priority wildlife species. 


USDA Colorado Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Trudy Kareus today announced that FSA has allocated an additional 400,000 acres nationwide to the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program that improves habitat for high-priority wildlife species.

“SAFE is a voluntary conservation initiatives that provides an opportunity for grassroots conservation partners to develop related projects to address high priority wildlife needs through habitat restoration,” said Kareus.

SAFE project area proposals are being accepted for the purpose of improving habitat for the designated wildlife species in new areas as well as possibly expanding current SAFE project areas by requesting additional acreage. SAFE project sponsors must submit all project proposals as soon as possible as the State Technical Committee is scheduled to complete the proposal review process on May 23, 2012.

The Colorado FSA State Committee will complete the final review and submit recommended proposals to the National FSA Office for final evaluation no later than June 1, 2012.

Various conservation practices currently offered under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are fine-tuned through the SAFE proposal to improve, connect or create higher-quality wildlife habitats by promoting healthier ecosystems in the project areas identified as essential to the effective management of high priority wildlife species.

Kareus added, “Once a project proposal is approved and acreage allocated, the SAFE program is implemented through a continuous CRP signup allowing USDA to accept producer acreage offers year-round.”

As with other Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiatives, the land and producer must meet certain eligibility requirements. Once approval of the SAFE project is announced, interested landowners can submit offers to voluntarily enroll qualifying acres in a SAFE project/CRP contract for a term of 10 to 15 years. In exchange, SAFE/CRP program participants receive annual rental payments, project incentives and cost-share assistance to establish habitat-enhancing natural covers on eligible land.

According to Kareus, Colorado currently has 18,939 acres across the state enrolled in the SAFE program benefitting targeted wildlife species including [Columbian and Plains sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage-grouse, Gunnison sage-grouse and Lesser prairie chicken (LePC)].

Completed SAFE project proposals can be submitted to billy.merritt@co.usda.gov. For additional SAFE project area details or other questions, please contact your local FSA Office or visit the web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov; click on “Conservation Programs.”