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Federal grasslands conservation program breaks record for acres enrolled

Screenshot 2022-08-22 075950.jpg
Nate Bien

A record-breaking 3.1 million acres have been enrolled in this year’s federal grassland conservation program.

Top states include South Dakota, with nearly 425,000 acres signed up.

It’s part of a federal effort to address climate change and conserve natural resources. Grasslands help sequester carbon while increasing natural habitat and resilience to drought.

Jack Davis is a crops business specialist with SDSU Extension.

Davis said the USDA’s grassland conservation program is popular because it allows landowners to continue haying and grazing practices.

“This isn't your typical conservation program where it's idling the land, taking it out of production and idling that for a set number of years. So, these would be what we'll call a 'working lands situation' in which the farmer or rancher can use that property,” Davis said.

However, Davis said the program is still a win for South Dakotans wanting to protect prairie grasslands.

“The public benefit I see is that it is used in a good conservative manner allowing for wildlife nesting. Also keeping the land in grass versus row crop production,” Davis said.

Nationwide, this year’s grassland conservation program surpassed last year’s 2.5 million acres by 22%.

Grasslands enrolled in conservation programs help sequester carbon while increasing natural habitat and resilience to drought.

See South Dakota acres enrolled in all federal conservation programs:

Joshua is the business and economics reporter with SDPB News.