Landscape Initiatives Target Natural Resource Concerns in Virginia
Photos by: (left to right) Lynda Richardson, Barbara
Bowen (NRCS), and Jeff Nadler.
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and neighboring states face environmental and natural resource challenges. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has adopted a progressive landscape approach to address pressing natural resource concerns — strategically investing federal funds and leveraging partner resources across state lines to implement aggressive conservation practices.
In Virginia, this strategy has resulted in better opportunities for agricultural producers to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff from fields while maintaining or improving production levels, as well as restoring wildlife habitat.
Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI) - NRCS is working with more than 20 partners to focus resources in the Shenandoah Valley, home to about 46 percent of Virginia’s dairies and 75 percent of its poultry operations. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, NRCS worked with landowners in the high-density animal production region to install 48 waste storage facilities and apply nutrient management practices on 31,307 acres under CBWI.
Two Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiatives and 11 Conservation Innovation Grant multi-year projects are leading landowners to install practices that will significantly improve Bay water quality. Nine completed projects with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have resulted in nearly four miles of stream exclusion fencing and other projects are helping to reduce phosphorous emissions, improve no-till practices, and implement more precision agriculture, nutrient management and large animal mortality systems.
Working Lands for Wildlife (WLWF) - The WLWF is a new partnership initiative to help manage and restore habitat for seven at-risk species. Virginia is part of a 10-state focus area for the golden-winged warbler. In the first year of this initiative, Virginia has approved nine contracts for 55 acres of brush management, 52 acres of conservation cover, 25 acres of prescribed burning, five acres of field border, and 15 acres of tree/shrub planting to restore golden-winged warbler habitat.
Longleaf Pine Initiative (LPI ) - NRCS and its conservation partners in nine states are helping private landowners improve the sustainability and profitability of Longleaf pine forest ecosystems. Longleaf pine forests represent some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems. The Longleaf pine ecosystem provides critical habitat for 29 threatened and endangered species. Important conservation practices such as forest stand improvement, prescribed burning, restoration and management of rare or declining habitats, and tree/shrub establishment improve forests’ health.