NRCS joins partnership with TNC and Cropland Agriculture to provide "Rest Stop" for shorebirds
Farming for Wildlife
NRCS joins partnership with TNC and Cropland Agriculture to
provide "Rest Stop" for shorebirds
Shorebirds foraging for invertebrates in shallow (0-3" water)
Mt. Vernon & Stanwood, Skagit and Snohomish County
During 2008, The west area staff developed new payment schedule scenarios that
provide incentives for active cropland farmers to provide wildlife habitat
without permanently retiring prime farmland.
The Nature Conservancy of Washington.
To provide shallow water habitat for shorebirds during fall (mid-Aug to
mid-Sept.) and spring migrations. Needed to replicate habitat that was
historically provided by tidelands prior to diking and draining what is now
highly productive cropland without permanently retiring prime farmland.
2009 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program used to provide financial incentives to
off-set cost of pumping water onto active cropland.
TNC patterned the concept of "Walking Wetlands" after the successes in the
Klamath Basin in Northern Californnia. The idea is to provide short term
wildlife habitat on active cropland, rotating the treated fields on the farm
after 1-3 years of short term flooding. TNC has on-going soil microbiology and
soil nutrient monitoring efforts that area showing increases in "healthy soil
biota" and nutrients. The increase in soil health following removal of the
shallow water will reduce the need for artificial nutrient application and may
reduce harmful cropland soil pathogens.
Flooded cropland in August 2009
The first contract to be implemented had immediate results for the 2009 fall
shorebird migration through the Skagit Valley. Less than three days after
flooding of the field began, TNC documented two shorebird species on the field,
one of which was the lessor yellow legs, a species of concern in WA. Two weeks
after field was flooded, an estimated 300 shorebirds had arrived and were
foraging for invertebrates in the moist soil.