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2011 Annual Report MBHI

2011 Annual Report - Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative

Birds migrating south this year will find more than 65,000 additional acres with enhanced habitat and water in Arkansas. In 2010, NRCS in Arkansas received $7.22 million and funded 343 contracts through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Wetlands Reserve Program.

Though no new contracts were funded in 2011, the current contracts run through 2012 and producers will again this year provide additional habitat for migratory birds.

Key conservation practices being implemented are:

  • Shallow Water Development and Management – Flooding rice fields or other crop fields which are in rotation with rice;

  • Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management – Providing nesting boxes for wetland bird species and planting food crops for migratory waterfowl; and

  • Early Successional Habitat Establishment and Management – Disking to promote early successional growth of forbs, legumes, and other food plants.

Success Stories

  • Dr. DeWayne Goldmon - Jefferson County

For Dr. DeWayne Goldmon, who operates the 750-acre Dell-Cam Farm, Inc., in Jefferson County, Ark., flooding fields through the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative was the right thing to do and helped fulfill a critical need.

"It was a win-win situation," said Goldmon, referring to the initiative designed to enhance habitat for birds making their annual migration towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Goldmon signed up to flood 14.3 acres through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program portion of MBHI that weren’t flooded in the past three years. "We had a concentrated effort that attracted birds to rest and feed in the area," he said. "I noticed a slight increase in the number of waterfowl in the fields.

"Although we had below normal rainfall during the critical period which probably affected the success of the program, I feel the project provided an added benefit to the migratory bird population."

"Arkansas’s success in MBHI shows the importance our farmers and ranchers place on doing something positive to help the migrating birds – not only during this initiative but in subsequent years as well," said Arkansas State Conservationist Mike Sullivan.

  • Andre Peer - Lee County

Like most Americans, Andre Peer, a rice, wheat and sweet potato farmer from Lee County, Ark., watched with great interest the affect the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill had on the gulf coast. Little did he know he would have a chance to reduce the impact on the migratory waterfowl population that would travel to that area.

Peer heard about the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative when John Wheeler, Lee County district conservationist, visited with him and dropped off information about the program.

"Normally, I would have planted wheat in the fall, but when I heard about MBHI, I signed up," Peer said. "This part of Arkansas is prime territory for migratory waterfowl to rest, feed, nest and breed on their way down to the Gulf of Mexico. I decided to provide a few extra food resources and habitat for the birds before they went."

Peer received a Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program contract through MBHI and signed up to flood 243 acres. NRCS staff from the Marianna Field Office provided assistance and developed a plan on the property to seasonally flood the fields as a shallow water area for migratory waterfowl.

"Because of our participation in MBHI, I noticed an increase in the number of ducks in the fields despite the lack of rain early in the fall," said Peer. "I think that MBHI was very good because it allowed me the opportunity to utilize the land as an alternative habitat for the birds and hopefully reduce the negative impact from the spill."