Private lands are essential for providing habitat for nearly two-thirds of all species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Through Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), NRCS works with conservation partners and private landowners to restore populations of declining wildlife species, to provide regulatory certainty and to strengthen and sustain rural economies. The nation’s landowners – farmers, ranchers and forest managers – provide not only food and fiber for the world but also include a variety of environmental benefits, including habitat for wildlife.
How Does WLFW Work?
WLFW uses a voluntary, innovative approach to benefit high-priority habitat for seven species of wildlife that are declining, candidates for listing or listed under the ESA. Through WLFW, NRCS works with agricultural producers to create and improve wildlife habitat with regulatory predictability from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Through WLFW, producers can receive technical and financial assistance to voluntarily restore and improve habitat on their land for the initiative’s seven species. These seven species were identified during a collaborative process with partners, using the following criteria: conservation on private lands can help reverse species’ decline; needs of the selected species are compatible with management of agricultural land; ESA tools are in place to provide regulatory certainty; and habitat improvements benefit other species.
Habitats restored for a target species provide benefits for many others. For example, when riparian habitats in the Southwest are restored and protected, the Southwestern willow flycatcher and 83 others species benefit. NRCS is working with FWS to extend predictability to all species in ecosystems benefitted through WLFW.
How Does WLFW Benefit Producers?
Assistance is available to producers through Farm Bill conservation programs who want to make conservation improvements to their land, which not only benefits the species and habitat but helps them strengthen their operations by lowering input costs and improving efficiency and yields.
WLFW also gives peace of mind to participating producers that as long as they maintain the conservation practices and systems that benefit the targeted species, they can continue their farming, ranching and forest operations and remain compliant with the ESA regulatory responsibilities for up to 30 years.
How Does WLFW Benefit the Public?
Productive working lands are compatible with the needs of wildlife, and through innovative use of existing tools and resources, government can assist private landowners to protect the environment and rural communities. This conservation work protects and restores critical landscapes while also leading to other environmental benefits, such as cleaner water and air and healthier soil. Partners FWS and other state and local partners played a key role in providing expertise to determine the management needs of species and the priority areas to focus work. NRCS continues to use their expertise to continually improve WLFW. Partners include conservation districts, nongovernmental organizations, private corporations, land trusts, state wildlife agencies, universities and federal agencies.
FWS and other state and local partners played a key role in providing expertise to determine the management needs of species and the priority areas to focus work. NRCS continues to use their expertise to continually improve WLFW. Partners include conservation districts, nongovernmental organizations, private corporations, land trusts, state wildlife agencies, universities and federal agencies.
WLFW Target Species
States within Priority Habitat Areas: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas NRCS Species Page
New England Cottontail
States within Priority Habitat Areas: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island NRCS Species Page
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
States within Priority Habitat Areas: Arizona, California,Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah NRCS Species Page
States within Priority Habitat Areas: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming NRCS Species Page
States within Priority Habitat Areas: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina NRCS Species Page
States within Priority Habitat Areas: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania NRCS Species Page
States within Priority Habitat Areas: Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia NRCS Species Page
Click map to enlarge.
For More Information:
Galon Hall, Working Lands for Wildlife Coordinator, (202) 690-2196