Dust Bowl Gave Way to Dust Baths

Conservation Reserve Program

I recently got selected for a summer job as an avian field technician. I will be doing work on the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)/Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in Illinois. I’m very excited about getting some experience in conservation field work. I have to know 40 birds by sight and sound by the first day of work though! It’s going to be challenging. I’m hoping to morph into a crazy bird whisperer in the next three weeks. I’m also thinking if I pretend I’m in Beauty and the Beast it might help. BACK TO THE POINT!

The CRP is run by the USDA Farm Service Agency and was spurred by the Dust Bowl era. The program “reduces soil erosion, protects the Nation’s ability to produce food and fiber, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources.” This information was taken off the official government website so it sounds really amazing. I don’t know enough about it to argue one way or another, but it seems like a good idea to me. The basic idea is that farmers get compensation for leaving parts of their acreage alone instead of trying to farm it. The acreage is usually highly erodible, so it probably wouldn’t be super productive land for farming anyway. A woman featured in the video stresses how helpful having a stable income from this program is for farmers, especially in drought seasons when crop failure is common. The video is not very long and it gives a good overview of the history, formation, and environmental and economical benefits of the program.

Extra: If you are interested in learning about birds, you can try this website that has become my new best friend. Their Bird Guide page allows you to search for practically any bird and learn its call, identification, habitat, etc. Also, if you didn’t get the point of my post’s title, birds and other animals often take dust baths to keep clean. 🙂

Common Pheasant. Wiki Commons: DickDaniels

Common Pheasant. Wiki Commons: DickDaniels


2 responses to “Dust Bowl Gave Way to Dust Baths

  1. CRP has many benefits, not the least of which is that it makes basically poor land more attractive to land buyers since they get a long-term income from it. This, of course, helps the farmers if they ever decide to sell the land. All in all, it seems like everyone gains, except for the pheasants that get shot. And that’s where I have a slight moral issue with the program: is it really right for us to build up the habitat for wildlife so that we can kill more of it? I have no problem with the concept for people who depend on the hunt for food, but it’s a different story when you turn it into an industry for people who just like to shoot things. Glad you covered this topic, though.

    • Thanks for those additional pros&cons to the program. I agree it seems stupid to build up a habitat just to be able to shoot it. However, most pheasants and quails are not close to being threatened, not that that makes it better (Northern Bobwhites are listed as Near Threatened). I think the perk of maybe hunting game could lead to more land being put into the program, and more benefits for birds that aren’t game birds. I’m not really a fan of hunting in general, but if it is sustainable, and there are more pros than cons, I don’t have a major issue with it.

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