EARTH DAY 2022 – THANKS PRIVATE LAND STEWARDS FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES YOU PROVIDE!
Today we celebrate Earth Day and recognize the critical resources that we all depend on for survival and inspiration. As a part of that we need to remember the role our private land stewards play in providing environmental services to society. America’s farmers and forest landowners work hard every day managing their lands not only to produce forest and agricultural products, but also to provide critical environmental services to society. They provide clean drinking water, clean air, carbon sequestration, and critical wildlife habitat. Fifty-six percent of forestland (445 million acres) in the United States is privately owned and sustainably managed by families and private companies. Private forestlands contribute immense economic and environmental benefits such as:
- Water – Twenty-five percent of the nation’s water supply precipitates on and is filtered by private forestlands.
- Air – Forests provide clean air and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As we work toward climate change mitigation, private working forests provide over 70% of our forests’ annual gross carbon sequestration, and over 50% of total carbon storage.
- Wildlife habitat – Sixty percent of America’s at-risk wildlife rely on private forests and 40% of the distribution of 152 bird species are in private forests.
Information above from the Forest Landowners Association’s Earth Day 2022 message
Ben and Louann Williams, 2021 Jon Gould Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, recently provided a fitting Earth Day message about how the environmental services provided by their Wetland Preserve property have guided their land stewardship decisions and activities. Watch their video at 2021 Tree Farmer of the Year – YouTube
One more for good measure – It is worth noting that Bill and Denise Matthews, 2022 Florida Land Stewards of the Year, were recognized last week for their outstanding land stewardship efforts at the same county commission meeting at which April 22, 2022 was officially recognized as Earth Day. Read more about Bill and Denise’s stewardship efforts here.
USDA FARM SERVICE AGENCY ACCEPTING NEW OR MODIFIED PROPOSALS FOR STATE ACRES WILDLIFE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is welcoming new and modified proposals from conservation partners for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative, a part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) focused on effectively managing wildlife habitat. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has expanded available practices under this initiative in response to feedback from partners.
Through SAFE, producers and landowners restore vital habitat in alignment with high-priority state wildlife conservation goals. Specifically, landowners establish wetlands, grasses, and trees. These practices are designed to enhance important wildlife populations by creating critical habitat and food sources. They also protect soil and water health by working as a barrier to sediment and nutrient run-off before they reach waterways.
FSA is adding two new practices with the assistance of its sister agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS conservationists will provide CRP participants with conservation planning assistance, which will now include managing for early successional habitat cover establishment or management, and wildlife habitat planting. These additional eligible practices will enable SAFE partners to better target a wide variety of wildlife species, such as the Northern bobwhite quail and other species.
New or modified proposals for SAFE projects are to be submitted to USDA FSA State Offices in June 2022. More information on developing proposals is available at the FSA Conservation Reserve Program website. Find contacts at your USDA Service Center.
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The mission of the UF/IFAS Florida Land Steward Program is to help and encourage private landowners to actively manage their land resources for long-term environmental, economic, and social benefits. This program is largely supported by partners and donors. If this program has made a difference in your land stewardship efforts please consider a gift. Support the UF/IFAS Florida Land Steward Program here. Thanks!