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News Release

Assistance available for New Jersey farmers and forest landowners to protect two species

SOMERSET March 11, 2013 - The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has initiated a second application period through April 19 for technical and financial assistance to support habitat for bog turtle and golden winged warbler in New Jersey. “Nearly two thirds of all species listed as threatened or endangered have populations on private lands,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carrie Mosley. “The Working Lands for Wildlife Partnership (WLFW) targets our conservation efforts for specific species in New Jersey by connecting federal assistance with farmers and forest landowners to restore and protect priority habitat areas.”

The Working Lands for Wildlife Partnership was developed by USDA with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help America’s farmers continue to work their land, while ensuring the recovery of “at-risk species” that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration. In return for voluntarily making habitat improvements on their lands, the federal government will provide landowners with regulatory certainty that they will not be asked to take additional conservation actions.

The golden-winged warbler is a migratory song bird that has been experiencing steep population declines in our region and has been proposed for potential listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The species is dependent upon shrubby, early successional habitat and are found in the Appalachian region. The bog turtle, America’s smallest turtle depends on a mosaic of open, sunny, spring fed wetlands and scattered dry areas. Bog turtles are found in 15 New Jersey counties. For a map showing the priority areas and for additional information about this program, visit the NRCS website at www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip/WLFW.html.

Applications submitted to NRCS by Friday, April 19, 2013, will be considered for funding this year.

WLFW is offered as part of the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and applicants to WLFW must meet eligibility requirements for WHIP. Applicants must own land that is capable of being farmed or land suitable for wildlife habitat, or they must have an interest in an agricultural operation, including forestry, and own or have control of the land under consideration. Land that is currently enrolled in another USDA Farm Bill conservation program such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) is ineligible. Land is also ineligible if it is used for mitigation purposes, or if it is publicly owned.