Kansas Conservation Coalition to lobby congressional delegation
WICHITA -- In an effort to help build support for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs in the next federal Farm Bill, environmental, civic, and landowner organizations, along with several state agencies and private businesses, have announced formation of the Kansas Conservation Coalition. The group's mission is to help educate the general public and policymakers about the wildlife and environmental benefits of Farm Bill conservation programs.

“When you consider that more than 97 percent of Kansas is privately-owned land, mostly in agricultural production, we must have strong conservation initiatives in the next Farm Bill if we’re going to have good wildlife habitat and a healthy environment,” said Don Snider, president of the Kansas Wildlife Federation, a member of the newly-formed coalition. “Farmers, ranchers, and other landowners depend on these programs to conserve our natural resources and improve wildlife habitat. We support their efforts, and that’s why this coalition has been formed.”

Members of the coalition include Audubon of Kansas, Friends of the KAW, the Geary County Fish and Game Association, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, the Kansas Bowhunters Association, the Kansas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, the Kansas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Kansas Ducks Unlimited, the Kansas Native Plant Society, the Kansas Natural Resources Council, the Kansas Nature-based Tourism Alliance, the Kansas Ornithological Society, the Kansas Outfitters Association, the Kansas Wildlife Federation, the Central Region of the National Rifle Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, the Kansas Canoe and Kayak Association, the Kansas Rural Center, and the Kansas Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“Federal programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, and the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program help continue outdoor recreation traditions and improve the quality of life for all Kansans, as well as help support farmers and ranchers," said Barth Crouch, regional wildlife biologist for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. "This makes it easy to support the Conservation Title of the farm bill.”

The Conservation Title of the Farm Bill deals with locally-led, voluntary natural resource programs under the NRCS. This title of law also deals with CRP under the USDA Farm Service Agency. These programs work with landowners through cost-share funding and technical assistance from NRCS technicians to help protect and conserve soil, water, air and wildlife habitats. Last year more than $20 million in cost-share dollars were available to Kansas landowners through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program EQIP. Additional funding was also available to landowners through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program. In addition, more than three million Kansas acres are currently in CRP.