||The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was established under the Food Security Act of 1985 with the purpose of assisting owners and operators of agricultural land in conserving and improving soil, water, and wildlife resources. In 1996, Congress reauthorized the CRP with an acreage limit of 36.4 million acres (14.7 million ha). The 2002 Farm Act increased the enrollment limit to 39.7 million acres (16
million ha). Environmental goals of the CRP were expanded under the 1990, 1996, and 2002 Farm Bills. The 2002 Farm Act explicitly required an equitable balance among conservation purposes of soil erosion control, water quality protection, and wildlife habitat. Insofar as provision of wildlife habitat is one of the statuary objectives of the CRP, broad benefits through creation and enhancement of wildlife habitat might be an expected outcome of this program. However, the realized wildlife habitat benefits of the CRP vary considerably regionally and within region in relation to specific cover crop established, time since enrollment, and management regimes. In the Southeastern United States, unlike the Great Plains and the Midwest, the wildlife habitat value and resulting population responses to the CRP have been more equivocal and less thoroughly documented. Within the Southeast, implementation of the CRP and practices established vary considerably among states and differ substantially from other regions. In the Southeastern
states, the wildlife benefits are less obvious and in some cases
the program has had potentially negative effects on wildlife.