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Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) - 2010 Update

Indiana Objectives:
The objective of the State WHIP plan is to increase high quality wildlife habitat for upland wildlife, wetland wildlife, threatened and endangered species, fish and other types of wildlife habitat.

A WHIP Subcommittee of the State Technical Committee was charged to gather resource data, draft a WHIP plan as a recommendation to the committee, and identify potential partners. Members of the Subcommittee included U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, Private Consultants, Wildlife organizations, and Agricultural groups.

Indiana Wildlife and Habitat Priorities:
Over the past 50 years, evolving agricultural land-use practices have transformed the American landscape. Widespread land conversions combined with more intensive farming practices have caused corresponding declines in wildlife populations. This is especially true for wildlife species that depend on grassland habitats. Extensive draining has also drastically reduced habitat for wetland dependent species.

As a result, Indiana NRCS has decided to place an emphasis on restoring prairie and savannah habitat through the planting of warm season grasses. Associated practices include early successional habitat practices such as strip disking, strip spraying and prescribed burning. Emphasis is also being placed on wetland restoration and habitat for Threatened and Endangered Species.

Upland wildlife species to be targeted include the Bobolink, Western Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Henslow’s Sparrow, Field Sparrow and Northern Bobwhite, Ruffed Grouse, and the Whip-poor-will. All of these species have shown declines in population. Loss of habitat is usually considered to be the major factor contributing to wildlife population declines and is generally considered to be the greatest threat to present day wildlife populations.

Targeted aquatic species include three federally listed mussels (Northern Riffleshell, Clubshell, and White Cat’s Paw) and two state listed turtles (Blanding’s Turtle and Spotted Turtle).

Indiana NRCS continues to work closely with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in an effort to treat sites infested with kudzu. Opportunities for special cooperative projects will continue to be emphasized to provide kudzu control through out the state.

Because of the increasingly negative impacts placed on habitat by invasive species, the list of invasive species considered for control measures has been expanded. Forestland, grassland, and wetland habitats all pose opportunities for habitat enhancement through the elimination of invasives.

Potential Partners that will be utilized to implement WHIP include:
Indiana State Department of Agriculture
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Indiana Department of Transportation
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Nature Conservancy
Quail Unlimited
Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever
Ducks Unlimited
National Wild Turkey Federation
Purdue University

Indiana Ranking Criteria:
The National WHIP ranking tool from ProTracts (Application Evaluation Ranking Tool -AERT) will be used to rank WHIP applications.  State and local priorities will be used in developing the ranking tool questions. Local wildlife priorities, as identified through the locally led process, will be incorporated into the ranking tool.

Performance Measurement and Accountability:
Program implementation will be measured and reported in ProTracts. Reports will be generated to assess the implementation of scheduled practices and identify areas where additional work is needed. It will also assure that contracts are current in installing planned measures. Progress will also be recorded in the Program Results System (PRS). This will indicate if the WHIP program is meeting the state’s goals for this program.