D.C. (May 8, 2002) – The Nature Conservancy and the National
Cattlemen’s Beef Association, continuing their ground-breaking
partnership, today jointly hailed the creation of the new Grassland
Reserve Program (GRP), touting it as an important buffer against the
loss of grasslands to suburban sprawl and other incompatible
GRP was included in the 2002 Farm Bill which today was given final
approval by the U.S. Senate.
Nature Conservancy and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)
have been working together for about two years to conceive, create and
build support for a program to conserve native grasslands. The
Grassland Reserve Program is the fruit of that partnership.
organizations today extended their thanks to the members of Congress who
supported this new program and helped ensure its creation.
the GRP, ranchers and other private grassland owners who enroll in the
program agree to place 10, 15, 20 or 30
rental contracts or 30
or permanent easements on their land, prohibiting development and other
activities incompatible with conserving grassland ecosystems.
In return, landowners receive annual payments for short-term
either a one-time payment for permanent easements or up to 10 annual
payments for easements. The
Farm Bill authorizes up to 2 million acres to be enrolled in the
program, at a cost of up to $254 million.
The program also makes additional resources available to assist
landowners in restoring enrolled grasslands.
Cattlemen and the Conservancy share a strong commitment to keeping
working landscapes, including ranches, intact.
Doing so helps ensure a viable and strong rural economy and helps
conserve one of our nation's most threatened ecosystems and the plant
and animal species it supports.
are pleased that, by partnering with The Nature Conservancy, we were
able to develop a constructive program that meets our common goals,”
said Chandler Keys, Vice President of Public Policy for NCBA.
“The GRP will, in this time of uncertainty and change, help
continue the ranching tradition by preserving the open spaces for future
of the Conservancy's top conservation objectives is to keep large
grassland landscapes intact and available to support native plant and
animal species," said Karen Berky, Vice President and Director of
Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy.
"This forward-thinking legislation provides an important
incentive-based tool for accomplishing that goal.
This new program embodies the notion that through partnership and
cooperation we can find conservation solutions that can protect wildlife
and a way of life."
new Grassland Reserve Program imposes no regulation on grazing and
allows private entities, such as ranching land trusts, to hold easements
under the program.
ecological status of many existing grassland systems are heavily
influenced at the local level by combinations of habitat fragmentation,
undesirable habitat changes due to fire exclusion, declining range
conditions due to improper grazing management, and loss of habitat
values due to the spread of invasive and non-native plants. As a result,
many species found only in grasslands ecosystems have declined
substantially in the recent past.
The GRP will help address these disturbing trends by providing
grassland owners with financial incentives to conserve and restore
important grassland ecosystems.
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