Policy for 2005 Grassland Reserve Program - Connecticut
Based on recommendations to the state conservationist from NRCS staff and the subcommittee of the State Technical Committee which met February 28, 2005.
Priority for Funding will be
Fund Rental Agreements - First
Fund Permanent Easements - Second
Fund 30 Year Easements - Third
Fund Under 20 Acre Parcels - Fourth
Rental agreements can serve as an additional incentive to keep land in agriculture without limiting future needs for diversification and change from grasslands to other agriculture. Permanent easements require the same technical and legal assistance as 30 year easements, and result in permanent protection.
GRP funds can be used for restoration in 2005.
Applications for rental agreements will be ranked separately from easement applications.
Applications where wildlife is the primary purpose (agriculture secondary) will be accepted.
Multiple adjacent applications that are under the 20-acre minimum will be considered if the contiguous acreage combined is >20 acres.
Rented property must show control of the land for the life of the contract.
Eighty percent of the land in the application must be grassland or converted to grassland from cropland or shrubland. Twenty percent can be other lands such as wetlands, narrow riparian areas, small forest blocks, pens and barns, and other incidental areas that make up an easily-defined parcel.
Parcels of 20 acres to 40 acres or greater of contiguous grassland (including small, incidental areas) will be considered eligible. Wildlife biologists and ecologists recognize 20+ acre areas of grasslands as viable and valuable habitat for ground nesting birds and raptors. Both of these groups of birds are threatened in Connecticut. Raptors do not require the 20 contiguous acres, but do value clusters of grasslands in near vicinity. Ground nesting birds may use smaller acreage in the vicinity of the larger grassland block. Thus, the "contiguousness" of the 20 acres, and value of adjacent smaller fields will be evaluated for eligibility and funding based on broader agricultural viability and habitat benefits than in 2004.