Skip Navigation

Working Lands for Wildlife

Working Lands for Wildlife Header

The nation’s rural landowners, its farmers, ranchers, and forest owners, provide not only food and fiber for the world, but also a host of environmental benefits, including habitat for wildlife. Nearly two thirds of all species federally listed as threatened or endangered exist on private lands. Conservation efforts on these lands generate outdoor recreation and economic activity that result in sustained growth for local communities and landowners.

Working Lands for Wildlife is a partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to combat the decline of seven specific wildlife species whose decline can be reversed and will benefit other species with similar habitat needs.

How Does WLFW Work?

Through Working Lands for Wildlife landowners can voluntarily participate in an incentive-based effort to:

  • Restore populations of declining wildlife species.
  • Provide farmers, ranchers, and forest managers with regulatory certainty that conservation investments they make today help sustain their operations over the long term.
  • Strengthen and sustain rural economies by restoring and protecting the productive capacity of working lands.

WLFW uses a voluntary, innovative approach to benefit high-priority habitat wildlife that are declining, candidates for listing or listed under the Endangered Species Act (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 (USFWS).

Producers can receive technical and financial assistance to voluntarily restore and improve habitat on their land. In Georgia there were two species 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.

WLFW targets species whose decline can be reversed and benefit other species with similar habitat needs in Georgia include the gopher tortoise and golden-winged warbler.

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 USFWS 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.

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.

When to Apply

Applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program - Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) Initiative are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the fiscal year. However, State Conservationists may establish evaluation periods for financial assistance programs. Evaluation periods may vary by initiative based on available funding by State.

WLFW Target Species

Picture of two Bobwhite Quail

 

Bobwhite Quail Southern Pine Savanna Restoration Project

 

Picture of the Conasauga River

 

Conasauga River Aquatic Species Project

 

Thumnail of a gopher tortoisetoGT

 

Gopher Tortoise

 

Golden Winged Warbler

 

Golden-Winged Warbler

 

Documents

Working Lands for Wildlife Ranking Summary (PDF, 77 KB)