OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Landowners across much of the state can help protect Northern bobwhites and monarch butterflies by participating in a federal farm program.
Oklahoma landowners can sign up for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), but must do so by Feb. 12, according to an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation news release.
When signing up, they can enroll in the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, the goal of which is to restore grasslands to benefit Northern bobwhites and monarch butterflies.
The monarch butterfly qualifies as an endangered species.
“On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that listing the monarch as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, but precluded by higher priority listing actions,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website states.
The Northern bobwhite, a ground-dwelling bird, is listed as a species that is nearly threatened, according to National Geographic.
SAFE is only available to landowners in North-central and Western Oklahoma because the CRP cover option, CP-38, is targeted primarily to those areas, according to the news release.
The SAFE program was developed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and operates in the state’s mixed-grass and tall-grass prairie regions.
“In addition to providing valuable habitat for monarchs and butterflies, SAFE also benefits many other grassland wildlife species,” the news release states. “Indirectly, CRP and SAFE areas also provide improved water and air quality, reduced soil erosion, and greater opportunities for outdoor recreation.”
The following requirements must be met to be eligible for CRP:
- Land must be cropland that was planted, or considered planted, to an agricultural commodity four of the six crop years from 2012-17;
- Land must be physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity.
Expiring CRP acres are also eligible if they can or will meet the cover requirements.
Local USDA field offices can explain SAFE cover requirements. A directory of offices is at www.farmers.gov/service-center-locator.
Here’s a fact sheet about CRP and SAFE: