New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region
 

Funding available for bog turtle habitat restoration

Most people are aware that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the primary legislation that protects threatened and endangered species like the bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii). The success of the ESA has led to the creation of other government programs that go beyond providing basic protections to offering incentives to landowners that voluntarily help imperiled wildlife. Through forward thinking and innovative partnerships, incentive programs are available to help recover bog turtles in New Jersey, and they are all voluntary!

The most exciting program available to help bog turtles is actually offered by a partner agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Section 7(a)(1) of the ESA imposes a duty on other federal agencies to use their programs to further the conservation of threatened and endangered species. To that end, NRCS and the Service have joined forces to create an initiative that not only helps bog turtles, but also helps the people that own bog turtle habitat. The Wetland Reserve Easement program (WRE) has been around since the 1990 Farm Bill, but recently got a new focus on bog turtle. Prior to 2012, bog turtle habitat did not fit well with the goals of WRE. But a new focus on bog turtle conservation by NRCS resulted in a special bog turtle initiative under WRE. During the first round of applications for the bog turtle initiative, four landowners of bog turtle habitat applied and three were funded! By enrolling in WRE, these landowners are being compensated financially for permanently protecting bog turtle wetlands. NRCS is offering the maximum rate possible for this habitat, which is several thousand dollars per acre in New Jersey. The landowner retains ownership, is fairly compensated for protecting the land, and bog turtles are helped because NRCS and the Service restore the land. Everyone wins, especially the bog turtle! In just the first year of the bog turtle initiative, NRCS is helping to protect and restore 52 acres of bog turtle habitat in New Jersey.

The offering of voluntary incentive programs reflects a new paradigm for threatened and endangered species recovery. Imperiled wildlife will continue to be protected by the ESA, but recovery of threatened and endangered species involves other programs that incentivize recovery activities. Protection of threatened and endangered species benefits all of society and these programs help shift the way recovery is viewed from a burden to a benefit for landowners.

To learn more about or to apply for NRCS' Wetland Reserve Easement program, click this link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/nj/programs/easements/acep/?cid=stelprdb1248941

 

 

 

Last updated: September 29, 2014
New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region Ecological Services
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