NEWS RELEASE: LCC funds research on carbon sequestration to benefit grassland conservation in the northern Great Plains
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2013
Ashley Spratt, 573-234-2132 ext. 104
Becky Jones-Mahlum, 701-355-3507
The Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) announced today $153,300 in 2013 funding for carbon sequestration research as part of a new pilot grassland conservation program to protect at-risk grasslands from conversion to cropland in the northern Great Plains.
Natural resources partners have leveraged more than $3 million in private and federal funding to support an innovative program that extends protection of privately-owned grasslands that have expired under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In the past two years alone, the number of CRP acres nationally has dropped from 31.2 million to 27 million. Of the 4.2-million-acre-decline, lands lost in North Dakota and Montana accounted for 1.6 million acres, or 38 percent.
The program aims to encourage private landowners to conserve CRP grasslands through the financial incentives of carbon credits.
“Keeping grass on the landscape via the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool for conservation of fish, wildlife, soil and water resources of the Northern Great Plains,” said Rick Nelson, Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC Coordinator. “Working side-by-side with private landowners, natural resources agencies and organizations are looking for ways to enhance agricultural profitability and maintain important habitats for fish, wildlife and plants.”
Native grasslands dwindle in North Dakota and Montana as grasslands are converted to cropland. Photo by Jim Ringelman/Ducks Unlimited.
With the support of LCC funding, LCC partners Ducks Unlimited and the Agricultural Research Service’s Northern Great Plains Research Lab will conduct soil carbon measurements on expired CRP lands before and after installation of livestock fencing and other infrastructure benefiting grassland conservation.
“Many landowners and agricultural producers in the northern Great Plains are interested in retaining their expired CRP as grasslands, yet have few economically competitive options. With support from the LCC, Ducks Unlimited and its partners look forward to further piloting a working lands transition program that combines payments from grassland carbon offsets with other investments in grass-based agriculture,” said Randal Dell, lead project investigator and economist with Ducks Unlimited.
“These combined revenue streams can help provide a more economically competitive incentive to maintain grasslands for wildlife, livestock and people,” Dell said.