Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of CRP

My son Jason can’t recall not having CRP on the landscape. 
Jason is one of an entire generation of young bird hunters that have benefitted from a robust CRP.  Think about it – literally hundreds of millions of pheasants, tens of millions of ducks, countless prairie grouse and bobwhite quail have found a habitat home the last 25 years through lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.  Surviving numerous ups and downs, highs and lows, crisis points, etc.; the one constant has been CRP’s wildlife legacy for current and new generations of sportsmen and sportswomen.
A quarter-century ago today (December 23, 1985), President Ronald Reagan signed into law the 1985 Farm Bill containing provisions to establish the Conservation Reserve Program or CRP.  Candidly, the program was originally much more about soil erosion and price support through commodity supply-control than wildlife.  But by the mid-1990’s CRP was telling a different story.  Pheasant populations had exploded, doubling and tripling in size, ducks filling the skies, grouse appearing in places they hadn’t been seen in decades, and on and on.  Wildlife success stories directly attributable to CRP in addition to a suite of environmental benefits including water and air quality improvements, soil erosion protection and more that led the way to CRP reauthorizations in 1996, 2002, and again in 2008.
With each major reauthorization by Congress, CRP has evolved primarily for the good, and today more than 30 million acres are scattered across the agricultural landscaped continuing to provide benefits for generation to come.   CRP has become a much more flexible and targeted program and results continue to justify the investments.  Over the years, CRP has been heralded as keeping farmers and landowners in farming due to the economic stability CRP payments provide.  Rural communities have benefitted from the full motels and restaurants due to hunters presence in CRP areas.
Clearly, CRP has a record as America’s most successful conservation program benefitting wildlife and the environment, farmers and landowners, hunters and conservationists, and all of society.  A 25 year old proven success is worth celebrating today and will serve us well as we prepare for the next 25 years as part of the upcoming 2012 farm bill.
NOTE: If you’d like to help Quail Forever fight for CRP in the coming Farm Bill, please check out our Bird Dogs for Habitat Campaign.  Every dollar we raise will be matched to make CRP even more productive for quail and future hunting opportunities.