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Maximize Conservation Practices for Fish, Wildlife

Maximize Conservation Practices for Fish, Wildlife

Whether it’s in your backyard, on a small acreage, or on a large farm or ranch, most soil and water conservation practices you put on your land have some benefit to fish and wildlife. But if you really want to see more wildlife as a result of your conservation work, you need to think about the impact you have on wildlife with every step you take to manage your land. You also need to be sure the conservationist and others you work with know one of your goals is to increase habitat.

Case in point: introduced cool season grasses are often easiest and least expensive to get good ground cover to control soil erosion, but some cool season grasses have little value to wildlife. A conservationist who knows you have an interest in wildlife will be able to recommend suitable plants, often native species. The increased cost of using native grasses may be offset by financial assistance from the federal or state government or help from one of a number of conservation and wildlife groups.

To maximize your conservation practices for wildlife:

  1. Use native grasses and forbs.
  2. Place wildlife plantings near water.
  3. Use plants that offer food and important cover for wildlife.
  4. Use a variety of grasses, trees, and shrubs.
  5. Use farming practices that maintain existing habitat.
  6. Use the largest recommended acreage for conservation plantings.

Consider the following practices to give grassland birds nesting and cold weather cover:

  1. Use grasses, trees, and shrubs in conservation buffers.
  2. Use no-till planting to provide residue cover for small birds in the winter.
  3. Take advantage of the water source in a farm pond to add fenced-off grasses and shrubs.
  4. Use more rows that are wider and longer in windbreaks.
  5. Plant blocks of native grasses and forbs between wetlands and crop fields.

For more information about conservation practices that can improve wildlife habitat on your land, stop at the local NRCS office.

Wildlife Ways

Did you know....
Ring-necked pheasants need winter food supplies located no farther than one-quarter mile from secure cover. About eight of every 10 pheasants hatched each year will not live to be a year old.


  • Favored Food and Cover: A guide to basic habitat needs of 15 popular wildlife species in the Midwest. Available from NRCS Distribution Center.

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

The following documents require Adobe Reader.

Specification 645: Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (PDF; 191 KB)