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NRCS joins partnership with TNC and Cropland Agriculture to provide "Rest Stop" for shorebirds


Highlights in Conservation icon

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)

Shorebirds foraging for invertebrates in shallow (0-3" water)

Location icon
Mt. Vernon & Stanwood, Skagit and Snohomish County

Project Summary icon
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.

Conservation Partners icon
The Nature Conservancy of Washington.

Resource Challenges icon
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.

Conservation Program Used icon
2009 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program used to provide financial incentives to off-set cost of pumping water onto active cropland.

Innovations and Highlights icon
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
Flooded cropland in August 2009


Results and Accomplishments icon
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.

Contact icon
Rachel Maggi, NRCS, Brush Prairie (360) 883-1987, ext. 111



NRCS, Fall 2009