Producers in Barton, Edwards, Finney, Ford, Gray, Kearny, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties may begin applying this month for the state's first Arkansas River Basin Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program at the local FSA office. (Hamilton County also is in the CREP area, but has already filled its Conservation Reserve Program acreage allotment.)
The program, announced earlier this month, would enroll up to 20,000 acres of cropland into 14- or 15-year Conservation Reserve Program contracts, paying between $100 and $150 per year.
Cost-share funds will be available for seeding, well-plugging and tamarisk control on enrolled land; that land may be leased for hunting, according to FSA.
The program's goal is to reduce water usage and improve water quality in the basin and will cost $22.7 million dollars over 15 years.
To enroll, land must meet specific requirements. At least 51% of the non-irrigated cropland must be located within the project area and meet CRP cropping history requirements. Irrigated cropland must have been planted and irrigated at the rate of not less than one-half-acre foot per year for four out of the six years, 1996-2001.
Approved practices and allotted acres, include:
- Permanent native grasses and legumes - 18,600 acres
- Permanent wildlife habitat, non-easement - 400 acres
- Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife - 200 acres
- Vegetative cover grass already established - 400 acres
- Filter Strips - 100 acres
- Riparian Buffer - 100 acres
- Wetland Restoration, flood-plain and non-flood-plain - 200 acres
Payments and incentives
Eligible participants will receive annual rental payments from CCC. Other payments include:
- Cost-share payments up to 50% of the eligible reimbursable costs of establishing approved conservation practices.
- A one-time Signing Incentive Payment and a Practice Incentive Payment for certain conservation practices.
- A one-time incentive payment equal to 25% of the cost of restoring the hydrology for certain practices.
The State of Kansas will provide:
- A one-time Upfront Payment of $62 per irrigated acre or $35 per irrigated acre depending on the soil type.
- A one-time Wetland Bonus of $350 per acre to program participants.
- Up to $1,000 in cost-share assistance for optional plugging and proper abandonment of wells where the water right has been terminated.
Kansas will provide staffing and support for monitoring and evaluation of changes, provide a program coordinator, establish a steering committee and seek participants. Meanwhile, the CCC will develop conservation plans, conduct compliance reviews and provide information as needed.
Kansas will contribute at least 20% of the overall annual program cost through a combination of payments to program participants, new funding for the CREP project and certain in-kind services. Ten percent must be in the form of either direct new payments to program participants or new funding for a CREP project. CCC will pay the remaining costs for the program.