TNC backs USDA initiative to allow private landowners to enroll lands in Conservation Reserve Program announced at White House conference on conservation

ARLINGTON, Virginia , March 2, 2012 (press release) – Today, The Nature Conservancy expressed its appreciation and support for the White House’s “Growing America’s Outdoor Heritage and Economy” conference, which highlighted community-driven conservation efforts across the country. The conference emphasized the connection between conservation and strong local economies that are created through tourism, outdoor recreation, and healthy lands, waters and wildlife.

The Conservancy also applauded news announcements made at today's event, particularly the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiative to allow private landowners to enroll lands in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This new initiative will improve the ability to conserve some of our most important fish and wildlife habitat. It includes 1 million acres in CRP measures to conserve grasslands and wetlands, and enables landowners meeting eligibility criteria to enroll directly in a “continuous” CRP category at any time, rather than waiting for a general CRP signup. It also increases signing incentive payments for some practices from $100 to $150 per acre, further incentivizing landowners to enroll and conserve valuable habitat.

In addition, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Departments of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture for the National Fish Habitat Partnership Initiative. This initiative is a nationwide, partnership-based approach to increase existing fish habitat conservation efforts through regional partnerships based on science and strategic collaboration, providing the groundwork to conserve fish habitats and fishery resources.

“This White House conference demonstrated a true commitment from the very highest levels of government to achieving bold, lasting conservation goals, and some great progress was made with the important announcements made today,” said Bob Bendick, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy.

As part of the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, federal agencies are increasing recreational access to lands and waters, supporting the creation of urban parks and trails, increasing youth employment in conservation jobs and making historic investments in large landscapes such as the Everglades. The initiative is empowering locally-led conservation and outdoor recreation efforts.

“The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is providing support for the growing efforts of communities, landowners, businesses and non-profits around the country to work together to conserve the places that are important to them. These partnerships are an example of government leveraging limited resources to accomplish important things of lasting benefit, and we’re excited to be a part of many of them,” concluded Bendick.

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The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

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