Released: July 14, 2004
USDA Providing Incentives for Planting Riparian Trees
MANHATTAN Kan. - Farmers with bottomland eligible for or already enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program can now get both financial and expert assistance in planting hardwood trees – trees that could produce nuts and/or reach valuable timber size by the end of the 10- to 15-year CRP contract for high priority, continuous signup lands.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined Kansas can convert up to 24,000 acres into this new CRP practice, said Bob Atchison, rural forestry coordinator for the Kansas Forest Service (KFS).
“Naturally, the Farm Service Agency is the one actually offering the Bottomland Timber Establishment program. But our state forest service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service are sharing the technical responsibility for implementing the program. And, the state’s district foresters plan to assist with plan preparation at no cost to the landowner. It’s quite a deal,” Atchison said.
After the flood of 1993, a Kansas State University Research and Extension study found direct ties between the farmlands that suffered fewer impacts and the riverbanks or stream sides that had permanent plantings – particularly trees, he said. Ongoing research has repeatedly found that such riparian plantings can also improve water quality, enhance carbon storage and provide valuable wildlife benefits.
“Those are the kinds of benefits that are important to everyone in the state,” the forester said.
The Bottomland Timber Establishment (CP31) program pays landowners 50 percent of the cost for buying and planting trees, plus for controlling competing vegetation for up to two years after planting. Landowners also get an annual $5 per acre maintenance payment and an annual per-acre rental payment.
The program’s yearly rental payment can vary from $30 to $45 an acre in the western part of the state and from $60 to $100 per acre in the east, said Atchison, who is coordinating the Kansas Forest Service’s part of the program.
“A producer who enrolls 10 acres has the potential to receive from $9,750 to $15,750 during the life of the contract,” he said. “At the same time, the land will be growing commercially valuable trees, such as black walnuts.”
Program requirements include the following:
* The land must occur within a 100-year flood plain for a river or stream with permanent flow.
* It must have an approved conservation plan.
* The land must have been planted to an agricultural commodity for at least four years from 1996 through 2001.
* Landowners must have owned the parcel for a year or inherited it. Renters can enroll if they’ve operated the land for a year and can provide evidence that their control of it will continue through the life of the CRP contract.
* Three types of nut trees must comprise at least 75 percent of the trees planted. They can include such nut-producers as the black walnut, bur oak, red oak and pecan.
Atchison said producers can learn more about the program from the USDA factsheet on the Web at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/facts/pubfacts.htm (click on “Bottomland Timber Establishment on Wetlands Initiative”).
Landowners interested in making an appointment to discuss enrollment requirements with local Farm Service Agency personnel can find contact information on the Web at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ks/index.htm. Or, they can call the state FSA office at 785-539-3531.
Each county’s K-State Research and Extension office can provide information about tree plantings, as well as connect landowners to their district KFS forester.
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.
Bob Atchison is at 785-532-3310