The state Industrial Commission’s Outdoor Heritage Fund has awarded $7 million to Audubon Dakota.
The money is to initiate the North Dakota Conservation Forage Program.
"The chief question is: How do we get more habitat on the landcape, but keep land working and producing food," said Audubon Dakota executive director Marshall Johnson.
Johnson said the plan is to enroll up to 30,000 acres of marginal cropland, to restore forage-based cover.
Farmers will receive payments for the first three years of enrollment; they will also receive payments to assist as the restored grassland forage becomes established; and they will receive cost share for native prairie seeding and grazing infrastructure.
Johnson says this is part of Audubon’s plan to provide one million acres of conservation over both Dakotas.
"To do that means learning the needs, meeting the needs of North and South Dakota landowners, and developing an array of projects that help them, help the land, and improve their bottom line," Johnson said. "When we can have those things work together, it works for birds that are declining across the Dakotas."
Audubon Dakota says the $7 million was the largest grant awarded to date by the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.