New Agreement Offers Certainty for Virginia Producers Who Protect and Maintain Golden-Winged Warbler Habitat
Golden-winged warbler (Photo by Greg Lavaty)
Richmond, September 24, 2012 – A new agreement between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will give Virginia agricultural producers and forest landowners new assurance that they can successfully blend productivity and stewardship without the threat of future regulation. Offered to participants in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative, this accord will offer up to 30 years of regulatory protection for state landowners who voluntarily implement conservation practices to restore golden-winged warbler habit.
“This agreement represents a major shift in the way we manage at-risk species on private lands,” State Conservationist Jack Bricker said. “It empowers Virginia landowners to keep working lands in production while complying with the Endangered Species Act, creating a win for the environment, private landowners, and taxpayers.”
The agreement builds on a nationwide $33 million NRCS investment to help producers who develop and implement conservation plans to manage/restore high-priority habitats for the following at-risk species: greater sage-grouse, New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, lesser prairie-chicken and the Southwestern willow flycatcher. The Commonwealth is part of a 10-state focus area for golden-winged warbler (view list of counties in the target area).
Under the WLFW partnership, federal, state and wildlife experts jointly identified at-risk or listed species that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration investments on private lands. Using the best available science, these wildlife experts prioritized restoration activities on a large regional scale to focus assistance most cost effectively.
In Virginia, NRCS is partnering with FWS and numerous federal, state, and local entities such as the U.S. Forest Service, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, and Virginia Commonwealth University to implement WLFW.
Participating producers must adhere to the requirements of each conservation practice during the term of their contract, which can last from one to 15 years. If landowners would like to receive regulatory predictability for up to 30 years, they must maintain the conservation practices as outlined in the NRCS and FWS agreement. More information about Working Lands for Wildlife is available on the national NRCS website.
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