Second Century Working Lands Program Provides OpportunityNovember 1, 2019
Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program Provides Opportunity
PIERRE, S.D. – Earlier this summer, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem introduced a key component of her Second Century Initiative – the Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program. Administered by the Second Century Habitat Fund, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is dedicated to enhancing wildlife habitat and getting the next generation involved in outdoor recreation.
The program provides an approach with a working lands focus. Marginal and less productive lands anywhere in South Dakota can be modified to perennial grassland habitat, providing important habitat for an assortment of wildlife species. At the same time, these acres can also provide forage for livestock by allowing those grassland acres to be managed with haying and grazing.
“There are many programs available to help South Dakota farmers and ranchers create wildlife habitat on their land, but few provide an option with the ability to also hay and graze those acres,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “Producers need options with flexibility, and that is why I believe so strongly in the Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program.”
When participants agree to establish a grass and forb mix on cropland acres for 5 years, they will receive free seed and a one-time payment of $150 per acre at the beginning of the contract.
After Aug. 1 of the second growing season, participants can hay or graze the enrolled land annually between Aug. 1 and March 1. Annual haying is limited to either half the enrolled acres every year, or the entire acreage every other year.
“The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and other federal conservation programs are currently on hold while rules are written from the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Kelly Hepler, Secretary of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP). “The Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program offers a great option, available now, for landowners interested in establishing grassland habitat on marginal cropland acres that will benefit multiple species.”
Once enrolled in the program, seed will be shipped directly to participating producers free of charge. The seed mix will consist of grasses and forbs that provide good habitat for ground-nesting birds and livestock forage.
Land enrolled in the program is not required to be open to unlimited public hunting, although these acres are eligible to be enrolled in the Walk-In Area public hunting access program through GFP.
Currently, landowners interested in enrolling their Second Century Working Lands acres in the Walk-In Area program can receive a one-time, up-front signing bonus of $10 per acre, per year to provide free public hunting access. On top of the signing bonus, they would also receive an annual access incentive payment provided through the Walk-In Area program.
Commercial, fee-hunting establishments are not eligible for the program.
To learn more about the program or to enroll, find a habitat advisor near you by visiting habitat.sd.gov/advisors.
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