From: Reuters
Published January 30, 2007 12:00 AM

USDA Seeks Land Reserve of 6,250 Acres in Arkansas

WASHINGTON -- Federal and state officials will spend $9.4 million to enroll up to 6,250 acres of land in northeast Arkansas into a program to restore hardwood forests, boost animal populations, improve water quality and sequester carbon, federal officials said on Monday.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said the total cost for the land conservation program will be split, with USDA contributing $7.1 million and Arkansas giving the remaining $2.3 million during the next 15 years.

"Establishing native plantings through the Arkansas (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) will provide habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement.

The Arkansas land reserve will come from the Cache River/Bayou Deview watersheds, located in Monroe, Prairie and Woodruff counties. The date for farmers interested in enrolling their cropland or marginal pastureland will be announced later this year with the deadline to participate of Dec. 31, 2007, or when the goal of 6,250 acres of land is reached.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a federal-state cooperative conservation program. The land is included in USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Some 36.7 million acres are enrolled in the CRP, which pays farmers an annual rent, averaging $49.30 an acre, for idling environmentally fragile land for 10 or 15 years. The reserve was created in 1985.

Source: Reuters

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