WHIP in Orangeburg | South Carolina NRCS
Orangeburg Landowner Committed to Enhancing Wildlife Habitat
By: Sabrenna Bennett, Public Affairs Assistant
For some landowners, conservation is just as important as making a profit. After many years of crop production, some landowners choose to return their land to its natural habitat. Specifically, an environment where soil and water resources are protected and wildlife can flourish. Such is the case in Orangeburg County at the farm of Charles Farnum.
In 1998, he enrolled 235 of wooded acreage into the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), thereby making the area a haven for wildlife. WHIP is a voluntary program administered through NRCS. The program is for landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. NRCS provides technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.
Farnum entered into a five-year contract and received technical assistance from Orangeburg NRCS District Conservationist Frank Stephens and Soil Conservationist Charles Holland. The program transformed previously barren woodland into a paradise of food and protective cover for native wildlife.
The owner of a family farm spanning several generations, Farnum's primary focus was to achieve a population increase in bobwhite quail, deer, turkey dove and song birds. To accomplish this, he worked closely with NRCS conservationists to plan and install several wildlife habitat management practices, including seven acres of firebreaks, prescribed burning (which is usually done in the months of January and February), woodland wildlife openings, forest stand improvement, and upland wildlife habitat management.
“One of the main attractions for the wildlife has been the woodland wildlife openings that were established,” said Stephens. Six openings were installed, each consisting of 17 acres. “Mr. Farnum uses these openings to manage the natural vegetation which benefits a variety of wildlife species.”
The wildlife openings have accomplished the intended goal by attracting numerous deer, turkey, dove, and bobwhite quail. Other animals sighted include rabbits, owls, hawks, foxes and a large population of fox squirrels. In an effort to prevent overgrowth and maintain the openings, Farnum rotates plots every three years, disking or bush hogging the previous plots.
Farnum also felt that the terrain of his land played a key role in attracting wildlife, and for this reason, open fields and the comfort and shelter of trees and native vegetation is present throughout his land. Unfortunately, Farnum experienced damage due to snow and ice this winter. Holland said, “The harsh weather left over fifty acres of broken and damaged trees, forcing him to clear-cut portions.”
Despite setbacks, however, Farnum never loses sight of his goals. “I am a huge nature lover,” he said. “I appreciate and respect wildlife and even know all of my trees by first name,” he joked.
Farnum is committed to maintaining the conservation practices he established to attract and protect wildlife. “WHIP is a great program to help landowners see how they can incorporate wildlife habitat management and production simultaneously,” said Holland. For more information about this program, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip or contact your local NRCS office.