A few years ago Green Girl enrolled some of her family's acreage in a CRP. Site surveys, soil samples and long discussions resulted in recommendations for what to plant. A couple years ago Green Girl complied--to the tune of 5 acres of prairie seed, 3 acres of non-native grass seed and 1,900 tree seedlings. (No, she did not plant a partridge in a pear tree, though The Twelve Days of Christmas plays through her mind every time she looks at those fields.)
This seemed like a no-fail proposition. Green Girl would improve the value of the acreage by planting trees and prairies and the government would share the cost burden. In fact, the government would pay Green Girl for sound environmental practices on the property--a common-sense use of tax dollars if she ever heard of one. (And felt entitled to because she knew they stood to make more money developing the property and turning into a landscape of subdivisions--1/2-1 acre lots planted with McMansions sporting attached 4-car garages and entertainment rooms.) The environment would win because hey! Biodiversity in plant species! Invasive weed control! Less soil erosion! Better management of the waterways because of buffer zones! Green space!
Everything got planted. Some things got replanted. And then replanted again.
There were issues with &$*#(@@@!!!^*% reed canary grass (a weed so invasive and evil that Green Girl has to pause and spit at the very thought of it).
There were issues with flooding.
And more flooding.
And still more flooding.
Last year Green Girl had to withdraw most of the enrolled acres from the program. All that remained was a 5-acre prairie plot that had almost established. (It takes 3 years to establish a prairie, 7 for it to reach its peak.)
Heavy snowfall and more heavy rains have created a shallow lake where the prairie has now officially FAILED. Last fall the CRP office held on to a slender thread of hope that if things dried out, the field would survive. The ground never dried out and now it's covered in weeds, not prairie plants.
It's only a matter of time before Green Girl gets that phone call from the CRP office, asking her to come in and sign off on withdrawing the final 5 acres.
Lessons learned: she should've planted rice paddies or cranberry bogs. Or started a salmon farm. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Or free government money (unless you're a multimillion dollar corporation selling oil, peddling insurance or contracting defense). There's still no money to be made in preserving the environment.
Disillusioned and disheartened, Green Girl will forge on, trying to figure out what to do with the CRaP fields at the back of their property. Perhaps there's a breed of goat that thrives when grazed on pastures of reed canary grass....