Photo: Rick Bohn
The North Dakota Conservation Forage Program (CFP) will launch spring 2021 supported by a $6.9 million North Dakota Industrial Commission Outdoor Heritage Fund grant, the largest awarded by the Commission.
CFP will work with North Dakota's producers to restore marginal crop lands back to grasslands to improve forage availabilty and quality. By providing support through financial and technical assistance to landowners, CFP aims to accelerate grassland restoration and recover overall soil health and grassland bird habitat across the state.
Grassland bird species are among the most imperiled group of birds in the United States. Since 1966, populations have declined more than 40 percent. Historical grasslands once stretched from Alberta to Mexico. However, fewer than 40 percent of these grasslands remain. In North Dakota, over a dozen species of birds depend on North Dakota grasslands for food, shelter, and breeding habitat, including, North Dakota’s state bird, the Western Meadowlark which has lost an estimated 60 million from its population in the last 50 years. The North Dakota Conservation Forage Program will lead the restoration of grassland habitat across North Dakota, not only for our grassland bird species, but also for native wildlife, like white-tailed deer and monarch butterflies.
The North Dakota Conservation Forage Program aims to improve wildlife habitat, forage availabilty/quality, and soil health by restoring and integrating grazing and/or haying land management techniques at more than 18,000 acres of private lands over a five-year project period. Additionally, enrolled landowners are expected to maintain the restored grasslands for a 10-year term.