World Wildlife Fund (WWF) today issued the following statement from Martha Kauffman, managing director of WWF’s Northern Great Plains program, in response to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s announcement of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program:
“By prioritizing America’s prairie grasslands as a Critical Conservation Area, the USDA is providing a much-needed boost to safeguarding this unique ecosystem and the people, wildlife, and livelihoods it supports. With more than 75% of the land in the Northern Great Plains in private hands, farmers and ranchers will continue to play an especially critical role as stewards of these lands under this program.
“Rapid change is becoming the new normal in the Northern Great Plains with energy development fragmenting the rangelands of the west and drainage and cultivation impacting the pothole areas of the east. These changes are reshaping the landscape and impacting local communities and livelihoods. This program will foster the kind of transformative partnerships with private landowners needed to sustain agriculture and conserve the prairie and its water, soil, air and wildlife.”
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