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Another blow for conservationists

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The government continues to take a sickle to conservation.

On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept 1.7 million acres offered under the 45th Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up. That puts total acreage at 26.9 million acres, a 26-year low. Since 2007, the CRP has lost more than 14.7 million acres, said Dave Nomsen, the vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

‘‘These recent CRP losses, combined with an agricultural climate rampant with conversion of native prairies and wetlands, bulldozing and burning of shelterbelts, woodlots and dry wetlands, are having a catastrophic impact on our landscape,’’ Nomsen said.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee’s 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill didn’t fund vital conservation programs, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

‘‘In the current fiscal climate, we understand that conservation programs must also receive scrutiny,’’ Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall said. ‘‘However, it is shortsighted and unacceptable to completely zero-out funding for conservation programs that are also economic drivers. NAWCA, in particular, is unique because it more than triples any investment by the federal government with non-federal funding through private partners.’’

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