NRCS Announces Wildlife Conservation Effort to Restore and Protect Bog Turtle Habitat
DOVER, Del., March. 27, 2012 – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Russell Morgan recently announced a new partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Delaware to help farmers and forest landowners to restore and protect the habitats of bog turtles while also helping other valuable wildlife species.
The Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership is using agency technical expertise along with $33 million nationwide in financial assistance from NRCS’ Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) to combat the decline of seven specific wildlife species. The seven species initially selected for this expanded campaign are: New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken, and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.
In Delaware where bog turtle habitat is the focus, landowners in New Castle County can receive financial assistance to manage and restore high-priority habitats by implementing beneficial conservation practices.
“Much of the bog turtle’s wetland habitat is located on privately-owned agricultural areas in the northeast,” said Morgan. “Delaware’s agricultural producers have a unique opportunity to contribute to the much needed restoration and protection of the threatened bog turtle habitat while supporting sustainable agricultural practices.”
“Without the support of NRCS from programs like WHIP and the cooperation of private landowners, we would not be able to successfully restore and protect the open, early successional habitat needed for this species to survive. Conservation practices such as prescribed grazing and woody vegetation control are critical to maintain these rare habitats and move us closer to recovery of the species,” said Julie Slacum, Endangered Species Division Chief, USFWS, Chesapeake Bay Field Office.”
Interested Delaware landowners can sign-up for financial assistance through WHIP to manage and restore high-priority habitats for bog turtle. Land eligible for WHIP includes private agricultural or forest land. Selected landowners will have a conservation plan developed to address concerns specific to bog turtle habitat. A conservation plan is a voluntary technical tool that helps landowners identify conservation measures that provide the greatest conservation benefits on the land.
Applications within the priority habitat areas will receive highest consideration. NRCS funds from WHIP will share the cost of conservation practices.
For 14 years, WHIP has worked to protect, restore, or develop fish and wildlife habitat for many species, including those considered at-risk. Since 2003, about $310 million has been committed to 23,000 farmers, ranchers, and landowners to provide wildlife treatments on four million acres of private working lands.
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