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Eastern Hellbender | Virginia

The eastern hellbender is a state-identified target species of the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership, a collaborative approach to conserve habitat on working lands. NRCS offers assistance to reduce environmental disturbances that impact breeding to help reverse population declines.

State Program Overview

The eastern hellbender is the largest salamander living in North America and serves as an excellent indicator of stream water quality. Many of the watersheds in which they thrive are among the most biodiverse in the country. NRCS collaborates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Tech, Defenders of Wildlife, state fish and wildlife agencies and non-government organizations to help educate landowners and recreationists about the need to protect at-risk species like the eastern hellbender.

NRCS is working with private landowners in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to reverse the decline of this species through voluntary conservation practices to restore riparian buffers, reduce stream bank erosion and sedimentation, and minimize nutrient inputs from fertilizer and livestock waste. Our customized conservation plans focus on the habitat needs of these salamanders and the property. 

Available Conservation Practices

NRCS offers more than a dozen conservation practices that can benefit the eastern hellbender by reducing sediment and nutrient inputs for improved habitat and water quality. Those offered in the Virginia fund pool are listed below.

  • 472 - Access Control
  • 396 - Aquatic Organism Passage
  • 314 - Brush Management
  • 584 - Channel Bed Stabilization
  • 327 - Conservation Cover
  • 342 - Critical Area Planting
  • 382 - Fence
  • 561 - Heavy Use Area Protection
  • 315 - Herbaceous Weed Treatment
  • 516 - Livestock Pipeline
  • 484 - Mulching
  • 500 - Obstruction Removal
  • 533 - Pumping Plant
  • 643 - Restoration of Rare or Declining Natural Communities
  • 391 - Riparian Forest Buffer
  • 390 - Riparian Herbaceous Cover
  • 572 - Spoil Disposal
  • 574 - Spring Development
  • 578 - Stream Crossing
  • 395 - Stream Habitat Improvement and Management
  • 580 - Streambank and Shoreline Protection
  • 612 - Tree/Shrub Establishment
  • 490 - Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
  • 642 - Water Well
  • 614 - Watering Facility
  • 658 - Wetland Creation
  • 659 - Wetland Enhancement
  • 657 - Wetland Restoration
  • 644 - Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management
  • 420 - Wildlife Habitat Planting

Benefits to You

Sustainable farming practices improve working lands and expand access to quality drinking water for towns and those on wells while enhancing recreational uses like swimming and fishing. Eroding stream banks impact acreage available for crop planting and can endanger cattle, fields, farm buildings and homes. Buffers and filter strips provide the root structure to keep soil in place and trap nutrients, contributing to cleaner waterways for all.

Habitats restored for the eastern hellbender benefit game fish as well as numerous rare and imperiled species, including the bog turtle, slender chub, spotfin chub, duskytail darter and more than 20 varieties of freshwater mussels.

State Contact:

Jeff Jones, State Biologist
PH: 804-287-1636 | Email:

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

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How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm number.

If you don’t have a farm number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.