Agreement Extends Wildlife Conservation Efforts on Working Agricultural Lands
Somerset, Sept. 25, 2012 – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe have announced an agreement that will provide long-term regulatory predictability for up to 30 years to New Jersey farmers and forest landowners participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative. Participants voluntarily implement proven conservation practices designed to protect wildlife habitat on private lands.
“This agreement provides New Jersey landowners with a way to keep working lands in production while complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” Maria Collazo, Acting State Conservationist for New Jersey said. Farmers and forest landowners who implement and voluntarily agree to maintain the proven conservation practices in WLWF will have addressed the related ESA regulatory responsibilities for up to 30 years. These landowners will be able to operate their farms as agreed upon, providing economic benefits and species conservation simultaneously.
The agreement builds on a $33 million investment NRCS announced last spring dedicated toward producers who develop and implement conservation plans to manage and restore high-priority habitats for seven specific wildlife species across the country. Of the seven selected species, bog turtle and golden-winged warbler are found in New Jersey. Since the spring, NRCS has assisted 10 New Jersey producers with habitat improvements for bog turtle and golden-winged warbler on 126 acres, and will be providing $207,355 in conservation payments.
Under the WLWF partnership, federal, state and wildlife experts jointly identified at-risk or listed species that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration investments on private lands. The other species selected for WLWF are found in other areas of the country and include greater sage-grouse, New England cottontail, gopher tortoise, lesser prairie-chicken, and the Southwestern willow flycatcher. Using the best available science, these wildlife experts prioritized restoration actions on a large regional scale to focus assistance most cost effectively.
For more information about Working Lands for Wildlife, please visit http://www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip/WLFW.html.