March 8, 2012
USDA and Interior Announce Wildlife Conservation Efforts to Support Local Economies and Preserve Farm and Ranch Traditions
|Photo Caption: The bog turtle is protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and has suffered heavily from poaching. Credit: Gary Peeples / USFWS|
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announce a new $33 million partnership to use innovative approaches with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to restore and protect the habitats for seven specific wildlife species while also helping other vulnerable and game species.
The announcement of the Working Lands for Wildlife partnership follows the White House Conference on Conservation that spotlighted community-driven conservation efforts as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will jointly prepare species recovery tools such as informal agreements, safe harbor agreements and habitat conservation plans to provide regulatory certainty to landowners.
The seven species selected are the: New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and Southwestern willow flycatcher.
Working Lands for Wildlife focuses conservation dollars and wildlife expertise on the recovery of certain at-risk, threatened or endangered wildlife species. The partnership has three primary goals:
- Restore populations of declining wildlife species;
- Provide landowners with regulatory predictability; and
- Strengthen rural economies through productive working lands.
NRCS has committed $33 million dollars from the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) to share the cost of conservation practices with landowners in the areas known to support one or more of the selected species. WHIP Applications within the defined priority habitat areas will receive highest consideration to maximize the return on the public’s investment in habitat restoration.
Interested producers and landowners in targeted areas can enroll in the WHIP on a continuous basis at their local NRCS field office. NRCS funds from WHIP will share the cost of conservation practices with landowners in areas known to support one or more of the selected species.
NRCS plans to continue targeted species conservation with the seven selected species beyond this year, while adding additional species in upcoming years.
Landowners can sign up now for Working Lands for Wildlife to manage and restore high-priority habitats for the seven specific wildlife species Applications within the priority habitat areas will receive highest consideration.
Seven Wildlife Species Fact Sheets
|Lesser Prairie-Chicken Fact Sheet||New England Cottontail Fact Sheet||Bog Turtle Fact Sheet|
|Golden-Winged Warbler Fact Sheet||Gopher Tortoise Fact Sheet||Greater Sage-Grouse Fact Sheet|
|Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Fact Sheet|