North American Pollinator
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NAPPC's Agriculture Task Force

Peter Berthelesen's Land Conservation Programs

The Berthelsens make use of several USDA conservation programs on their land. These programs help to support their grazing operation, restore degraded areas, enhance the financial efficiency of marginally productive land, and provide much needed habitat for wildlife and pollinators. For example, in 2005, ninety-five acres of rangeland were improved to benefit grazing management with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The EQIP program helped to control eastern red cedar, perform prescribed burning and install water lines and tanks. In 2006, sixty-five acres of the land were enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). These are highly erodible fields retired from agricultural production. The fifteen year CRP contract incorporated a high diversity seeding of plant species and provides habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. In 2010, ninety-five acres of the Berthelsen’s grassland were enrolled into the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). As a part of their CSP agreement, a portion of those acres were established and managed specifically for pollinator habitat. Pete used forty-nine plant species selected to enrich native bee habitat. Each program within the USDA has specific eligibility requirements and offers different financial incentive opportunities. The CRP provides a per acre annual payment for the length of the contract period, EQIP provides cost share incentives for management activities and CSP provides cost share incentives for management activities in addition to an annual rental payment.

Pete contends that a team approach is essential for a successful conservation project. "The NRCS have knowledgeable staff that can help you develop your project goals and align you with the appropriate conservation programs that match your objectives." Pete cites local NRCS resource conservationist Jim Lott and NRCS state wildlife biologist Ritch Nelson in being very supportive in his habitat goals and educational efforts.