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News Release

NRCS to Expand Targeted Conservation Effort for Wildlife on Agricultural Lands

Amelia Dortch

Five New Working Lands for Wildlife Projects Provide Opportunities for Producers to Restore, Protect Habitat

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2018 – From the Hawaiian nene to salamanders and turtles, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adding several new target species to its premier wildlife conservation effort that helps agricultural producers make voluntary wildlife-friendly improvements on working lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is adding five new projects to Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), the agency’s targeted, science-based effort to help producers restore and protect habitat for declining species on farms, ranches and working forests.

“Agriculture and wildlife both thrive together through landscape conservation,” said NRCS Acting Chief Leonard Jordan, “Through a locally led process, Working Lands for Wildlife has delivered many unprecedented successes over the years and we’re proud of our collective past achievements and look forward to continuing our work with America’s producers.”

With more than two-thirds of the continental United States under private ownership, projects focus on declining species that have needs compatible with agricultural practices and rural land management and that can benefit from conservation on private lands. Some of the new projects focus on one target species; others focus on a group of species. New projects include:

  • Northern Plains Grassland in South Dakota and North Dakota;
  • Blanding’s Turtle in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio;
  • Louisiana Pine Snake in Louisiana and Texas;
  • Hawaiian nene in Hawaii; and
  • Eastern Hellbender in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

When habitat is restored for these species, many others benefit. NRCS uses species as indicators of the health of the ecosystem at-large.

NRCS staff worked with local partners to expand opportunities for producers to address wildlife needs. Considerations included the compatibility of the species and agriculture, the network of available partners and the needs of the species.

Working Lands for Wildlife Conservation Model

So far, WLFW has helped producers restore 8.4 million acres of habitat for eight target species, such as the Monarch butterfly and Golden winged warbler.

“The future of wildlife, agriculture and rural ways of life depend on our collective ability to transfer our Working Lands for Wildlife model to more species and working landscapes,” Jordan said.

Through WLFW, NRCS strategically invests where conservation returns are highest and measures how wildlife respond to management activities to refine conservation efforts.

Own or Manage Land? You Can Help.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help producers adopt a variety of conservation practices on their land. NRCS staff help producers with a conservation plan and provide funding to cover part of the costs for adopting the practices. These practices are designed to benefit both the species and the agricultural operation.

To learn more about assistance opportunities, landowners should contact their local USDA service center.