Applications accepted through June 25

SALINA--Eric B. Banks, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kansas, announced that applications for participation in a national lesser prairie chicken habitat improvement initiative will be accepted through June 25, 2010. This initiative will also promote the overall health of grazing lands and the long-term sustainability of Kansas ranching operations. Kansas has received a $750,000 allocation for this initiative.

“Our intent,” said Banks, “is to target technical and financial assistance on expired CRP fields that are to be maintained in permanent cover and use them for grazing.”

In addition, financial assistance would be offered to establish and maintain permanent vegetation enhancing lesser prairie chicken habitat on cropland and grazing lands in 34 targeted counties: Barber, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gove, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kiowa, Lane, Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Pawnee, Rush, Pratt, Scott, Seward, Sherman, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, and Wichita.

“Many of the expired CRP acres are large fields feasible to graze, but they lack fencing, water development, and grazing plans,” said Banks.

Through this initiative, landowners would be provided the opportunity to retain the cover established through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and NRCS would assist them transitioning this cover to managed grazing lands. Financial assistance for conservation practices, such as fencing, water development and others would be available to aid in developing and enhancing the existing cover.

“This initiative is also available to help address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers who are interested in improving lesser prairie chicken habitat on their land," said Banks. "In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to this initiative.”

In addition to Kansas, four other states, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, have significant expiring CRP acreage and have counties with populations of lesser prairie chickens. These states are also taking part in this initiative.

For more information go to the Kansas NRCS web page at or contact your local NRCS field office. NRCS is an equal opportunity provider and employer.