Breeding bird use of grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program in the northern Great Plains

Science Center Objects

Agriculture is the dominant land use on privately owned lands in the northern Great Plains of the United States.  Management decisions on agricultural lands are influenced by a variety of policies and programs established by the federal government in periodic Farm Bills.  In 1985, Congress passed the Food Security Act.  Title XII of the Act established the Conservation Reserve Program or CRP, a voluntary, long-term, cropland retirement program that is available to agricultural producers to help safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Since 1990, Northern Prairie has evaluated breeding-bird use of several hundred grasslands enrolled in the program in four states (ND, SD, MN, and MT) in the northern Great Plains. Results from this and allied studies have been used to generate support for renewal of the CRP in subsequent Farm Bills and to make the Prairie Pothole Region a high-priority area for CRP in the United States. The results from this study also have served to inform private landowners, managers, and policy makers on program improvements for grassland birds related to CRP management (e.g., haying, grazing), grassland patch size, and seeding mixtures (native vs. exotic).