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Working Lands for Wildlife (MT-15)

Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) Planner Certification Requirements and Process for Documenting Regulatory Predictability to Participating Landowners

Conservation Planning Technical Note Number MT-15

If you encounter any problems with the files provided on this page, please contact Technical Resources at 406-587-6822.

This technical note is also available in Adobe Reader format: Conservation Planning Techncial Note Number MT-15 (PDF; 68 KB)

June 2014
by Pete Husby

WLFW provides regulatory predictability so landowners within sage-grouse habitat can continue normal ranching operations without fear of additional restrictions on their private land management should this prairie grouse become listed as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For an overview of the WLFW program, see: WRM WLFW Partnership Implementation Plan Final. (PDF; 96 KB)

WLFW plans must be prepared by Certified WLFW Planners, which requires training above and beyond normal NRCS planner certification requirements.

WLFW Planner Certification Requirements

  1. WLFW planners must have NRCS Level II Planner Certification.
  2. Job Approval Authority, Level II for Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (Code 645) and Prescribed Grazing (Code 528).
  3. View the following three WLFW sage-grouse webinars: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMKe6XEERrmsumkbMFe6kCg
    • Endangered Species Act Compliance for the Sage Grouse Initiative
    • Sage Grouse Biology and Ecology: A Primer
    • ESA Predictability Webinar
  4. Read the following:
  5. View the following five videos on the National SGI website: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMKe6XEERrmsumkbMFe6kCg
    • Sage Grouse Initiative Story
    • Developing Grazing Systems
    • Tackling Conifer Encroachment
    • Establishing Conservation Easements
    • Saving Sage Grouse – The Wyoming Example

Area Resource Conservationists will provide documentation to the State Resource Conservationist that the above training has been completed for each employee training to become a Certified WLFW Planner.

Documenting Regulatory Predictability

Once the landowner implements the WLFW conservation plan, the certified WLFW planner will visit the ranch and certify that practices (only practices found in the sage grouse Conference Report) have been implemented, including Montana Conditions on Greater Sage Grouse Conference Report Practices (links for these documents under No. 4, above). Once the practices are certified, the WLFW Planner will update the conservation plan with the applied practice information.

The WLFW Planner then provides the client with the predictability information packet that includes:

  1. The form letter from USFWS that explains the predictability provided: 2013_07_15_ FWS Director_predictability_letter (PDF; 30 KB).
  2. WLFW “Frequently Asked Questions”: WLFW_General_FAQ (PDF; 443 KB).
  3. A letter on local NRCS field office letterhead with the WLFW Plan name, contract number (if applicable), farm/tract number(s), priority species the practices support, signed by the WLFW Planner providing concurrence that the plan is written to meet the conservation measures in the Conference Report. (The letter also outlines the voluntary tracking options, annual self-verification, and the five-year on-site review process): WRM WLFW NRCS predictability letter (PDF; 62 KB).
  4. The WLFW Plan with supporting practice specifications/job sheets showing practices applied.