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Fort Hays State University to receive $35,000 from Interior
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey announced that it intends to award a $35,000 cooperative agreement to the Fort Hays State University for the evaluation of new protocols for establishing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program on sand prairies across the Southern Plains region.

The U.S. Geological Survey provided the following overview: “The USDA Conservation Reserve Program is the largest private-lands conservation program in the United States. Over the last 33 years it has evolved into an effective integration of conservation practices (e.g., CREP) and agricultural policies targeting fragile and environmentally-valuable lands. There is persistent concern improvement is needed to successfully establish CREP fields with native vegetation, for soil stability, wildlife habitats and other environmental profits. In areas with sandy soils, successful plantings of native vegetation has proven very difficult due to the instability of these soils in a dry, windy climate.

Efforts to re-vegetate these abandoned croplands through the USDA CREP using conventional NRCS recommendations have produced poor results, at best, and many outright failures. Continued failure raises the potential that vast areas could eventually become regions of shifting dunes or covered mostly by invasive weeds. Restoring abandoned center-pivot irrigated cropland in the sandsage prairie and other sand prairies to native vegetation is paramount for endemic wildlife such as the lesser prairie-chicken as well as for other environmental benefits such as cleaner air, water and healthier soil.”

The funding opportunity number is USGS-18-FAC-4886 (CFDA 15.808).

For more information, contact Kristen Pederson, 303-236-9326,