Save for Wildlife

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 7, 2010

and should provide the habitat necessary to ensure the success of recent wild turkey stocking efforts in extreme southeast Missouri. The restoration of sand prairies in southeast Missouri has the support of a number of state and local conservation partners.

Nesting Habitat for Grassland Birds

The goal of this SAFE is to significantly increase available nesting habitat to benefit the state-endangered greater prairie chicken and other grassland-dependent birds within six Missouri Grassland Focus Areas and a portion of Ringgold County, Iowa. This joint effort with our conservation counterparts in Iowa was developed in cooperation with the Missouri Grasslands Coalition partners.

Prairie chickens require large parcels of nesting cover within large, open landscapes. Hens prefer to establish nests in vegetation that is roughly knee-high and located near an edge with less dense cover, such as well-managed pasture, wheat stubble or no-till soybeans, so newly hatched chicks can move freely to escape predators and catch insects for food. Most current CRP grasslands do not provide this kind of habitat because they are too tall or too thick.

A variety of grass mixes with legumes or wildflowers may be planted. The minimum enrollment is 20 acres because prairie chickens and many other grassland birds require large tracts of grasslands. Trees along the perimeter of the planting must be cut down to restore an open landscape. Non-CRP incentive programs may be available to defray the cost of tree removal, if it is necessary.

In addition to the extra incentives provided by USDA for this practice, the Missouri Department of Conservation will add a one-time payment of $50 per acre after enrolled acres are planted. MDC also plans to help landowners identify and enroll less productive fields or portions of fields in this practice. This approach allows farmers to focus crop production efforts on their best land, while receiving SAFE payments for less productive acres and adding much-needed grassland bird habitat.

Bobwhite Quail Habitat Restoration

The Bobwhite Quail Habitat Restoration SAFE was developed in cooperation with Quail Unlimited and Quail Forever. Its goal is to provide the nesting and brood-rearing habitat necessary for bobwhite quail by creating diversity within a CRP field.

To thrive, bobwhite quail require at least 25 percent bare ground under the plant canopy. However, most older CRP grasslands have well below 10 percent bare ground. This practice is designed to produce and maintain additional bare ground.

The practice is offered statewide on all cropland fields. CRP contracts expiring in 2007, 2008 and 2009 will also be eligible. Landowners may enroll entire fields or partial fields, including field borders and contour buffer strips.

Landowners will be required to establish at least 10 percent of the contract in food plots and provide edge-feathering or covey-headquarters shrub plantings. Native grass mixes with wildflowers must be established.

With SAFE, you, too, have a new opportunity to open up a window on a bluebird kind of day and hear the melody of bobwhites. No batteries, electricity or audio equipment is required.

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