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Improving Grasslands Through Enrollment in WHIP

Nick Cromwell has ten acres enrolled in the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) in Allegany County with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Nick has a total of 130 acres and is an enthusiastic land owner when it comes to wildlife habitat. Nick and his family enjoy using the land for camping, hunting, and watching wildlife.A birdhouse mounted in a tree for cavity nesting birds

Nick decided in 2009 that the property could be enhanced for wildlife through the WHIP grassland program. He had an area of land that was growing up with shrubs and some undesirable species. There was excitement at the potential this area had; to be converted into a beneficial pollinator and bird habitat. Nick cleared the land of woody shrubs and a few selected trees.

Today there is a well-established ten acre stand with five acres planted to a variety of warm season grasses with mixed forbs including: Big bluestem, Niagara Little bluestem, Indian grass, and Side Oats Grama grass. There also is a well-established five acre stand of cool season grasses including Wild rye, Fringed brome grass, and Fowl bluegrass. The forbs are mixed throughout both plantings and includes Butterfly milkweed, White aster, Purple coneflower, Joe pyeweed, Boneset, Blackeyed susan, Trefoil, and Canada goldenrod.A variety of wildflower species desired by pollinators

This grassland has had a tremendous benefit to the surrounding wildlife and pollinators. Nick has spotted many deer, turkey, songbirds, and black bear on site; many of which he has been able to get photographs of using trail cameras. A great variety of pollinator species are found throughout this grassland as there are many forbs in bloom early spring through the last frost. Nick has also recently put up many bird boxes on the property to help provide areas for cavity nesting birds.

NRCS offers voluntary programs that provide financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers who are willing to address priority environmental issues by implementing conservation practices. If you are interested in learning more about how conservation programs may protect natural resources on your farm, please contact your local NRCS Office.