The special Conservation Reserve Program wildlife habitat practice CP38, also known as SAFE, has been highly successful this year in Arkansas. Enrollment applications became available in April for a total of 9,700 acres across the state — 5,700 acres for wetland and bottomland tree planting habitats and 4,000 acres for native grass habitat.

According to David Long with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas producers submitted enrollment applications so rapidly (for well over the 5,700 tree planting acres) that the state requested USDA release more available acres. USDA provided the state an additional 3,000 tree-planting acres: 2,000 for bottomland tree habitat and 1,000 for wetland habitat.

Approximately 3,600 acres of producer applications have been received so far for the 4,000 allotted native grass acres.

The cash incentives and income opportunities from GreenTrees have created the expected positive impact on CRP/SAFE enrollment. According to Andy Johnson, GreenTrees Landowner Relations Manager for Arkansas, 90 percent of the farm producers enrolling in GreenTrees so far this year are also qualified for SAFE.

SAFE incentives are some of the highest CRP incentives available — 50 percent cost-share, a 40 percent PIP and $100 per-acre SIP. When a producer’s acres qualify for both programs simultaneously, the combined federal and private incentives provide producers a very high net income in the first year after all tree-planting costs are paid for plus additional short and long term incomes.

“The GreenTrees program is having a very positive impact on our SAFE enrollment,” said Long. “This has been a great example of how the simultaneous combination of private and public conservation programs is offering farm producers a great deal of value in return for restoring many of their marginally productive croplands into bottomland hardwood or wetland habitats. Farm producers, conservation, habitat restoration, wildlife and the community all win from this combined availability”.

Long expects all of the total 8,700 tree-planting SAFE acres to be applied for and enrolled in this year. Any producers interested in enrolling in SAFE should apply at their county FSA office.

More information about GreenTrees is available from Andy Johnson at (870) 403-3885 or www.green-trees.com and about CRP-SAFE from David Long at (877) 972-5438. Another contact for the GreenTrees program is Page Gravely at (540) 687-8950 or page@c2invest.net.