Applications Now Being Accepted for Dane County’s Popular Continuous Cover Program
January 09, 2020
Ariana Vruwink, (608) 267-8823
Funds Doubled in 2020 Budget to $1.5 Million Due to Program’s Success
Dane County is now accepting applications for its Continuous Cover Program, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. The program began last year and provides landowners with an incentive to convert existing cropland acres into permanent, perennial grass. Interest in the county’s effort was overwhelming in 2019. As a result, County Executive Parisi doubled funding for the Continuous Cover Program in this year’s budget to $1.5 million to provide more landowners with the opportunity to participate in the program.
“By taking part in Dane County’s Continuous Cover Program, small family farms and rural property owners can preserve the character of their land and make it less vulnerable to flooding,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. “In a time of economic hardship, this program can provide farmers with the opportunity they need to make ends meet and protect their lands for conservation efforts in the face of expanding development pressures.”
The Continuous Cover Program began in 2019 with $750,000 plus funding from the Yahara CLEAN budget as a way to reduce run-off, enhance carbon sequestration, and preserve rural character in Dane County. Nearly 60 applications were received, which encompassed approximately 1,000 acres of property. 23 landowners entered into the program during the 2019 cycle, allowing more than 500 acres of property in Dane County to be converted into continuous, perennial cover.
Benefits of the Continuous Cover Program include reducing phosphorus and carbon emissions, protecting lands for conservation in the face of expanding development pressures, and promoting habitats good for pollinators that continue to face adversity from challenges like pesticides and climate change. The conversion of cropland to perennial grasses increases water infiltration, improves water quality, reduces soil erosion, and enhances wildlife habitat practices, all while helping farmers as they continue to face economic challenges.
The program offers landowners a tool to diversify or address marginally productive lands. The property can be converted to continuous cover through a variety of practices including: prescribed grazing, pasture establishment, cool season grass establishment, native prairie, and pollinator habitat. Those who enroll in the program commit to keeping and maintaining their land in perennial cover for at least 15 years.
Dane County’s Land & Water Resources Department is accepting Continuous Cover Program applications now through February 28, 2020. To apply or learn more about the Dane County Continuous Cover Program, visit https://lcd-lwrd.countyofdane.com/Continuous-Cover-Program or call (608) 224-3730.