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EQIP Working Lands for Wildlife

Photo of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Joe-Pye Weed

NRCS has formed a partnership with the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) called Working Lands for Wildlife to accelerate wildlife conservation for targeted at-risk or listed species. NRCS is geographically unique; we have a broad delivery system to put conservation on the ground at the local level, across the entire country. With nearly two thirds of all species federally listed as threatened or endangered with populations on private lands, the ability to work with private landowners and target our conservation efforts can have a tremendous impact.

This partnership uses innovative approaches with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to restore and protect priority habitat areas for seven specific wildlife species to include: New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and the Southwestern willow flycatcher. This approach is a paradigm shift for the agency where we will look at species specific conservation on a broad scale.

Working Lands for Wildlife has three primary goals:

  1. Restore populations of declining wildlife species
  2. Provide landowners with regulatory certainty
  3. Strengthen rural economies through productive working lands

The Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative is established through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the EQIP eligibility requirements apply. Working Lands for Wildlife  will provide financial and technical support to increase conservation efforts and share the cost of conservation practices with landowners in the areas known to support one or more of the selected species. WLFW Applications within the defined habitat focal areas will receive highest consideration. Producers and landowners can enroll in WLFW on a continuous basis at their local NRCS office. 

Target Species in New Jersey

Additional Information on WLFW Partnership:

Bog Turtle Conservation

Listing Status: Threatened

bog turtleThe bog turtle, American’s smallest turtle, is federally listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species. Bog turtles depend upon a habitat mosaic of open, sunny, spring fed wetlands and scattered dry areas, and can be an indicator of water quality and wetland function. The greatest threats to bog turtles include habitat degradation and fragmentation from land conversion, habitat succession due to invasive exotic and native plants, and illegal trade and collecting.

Private landowners own the majority of remaining bog turtle habitat; good livestock grazing management has helped to conserve bog turtle habitat, demonstrating the important role that agriculture can play in conservation.

Core Conservation Practices

  • Restoration & Management of Rare & Declining Habitats (643)
  • Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management (644)
  • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (645)
  • Early Successional Habitat Development/Management (647)

Map of Target Areas for Bog Turtle ConservationSupporting Conservation Practices

  • Brush Management (314)
  • Herbaceous Weed Control (315)
  • Conservation Cover (327)
  • Prescribed Burning (338)
  • Fence (382)
  • Riparian Herbaceous Cover (390)
  • Riparian Forest Buffer (391)
  • Filter Strip (393)
  • Stream Habitat Improvement (395)
  • Grade Stabilization (410)
  • Access Control (472)
  • Prescribed Grazing (528)
  • Stream Crossing (578)
  • Streambank and Shoreline Protection (580)
  • Structure for Water Control (587)
  • Watering Facility (614)
  • Wetland Restoration (657)
  • Wetland Enhancement (659)

Golden Winged Warbler Conservation

Listing Status: Candidate

golden-winged warbler after bandingThe Golden Winged Warbler has undergone a significant population declines in the Appalachian region. Golden-winged warblers (GWW) and many other species depend upon shrubby, early successional habitats including forest clear-cuts, alder swamps, areas harvested for timber, and utility rights-of way.

The Appalachian region offers a tremendous opportunity to improve habitat for golden-winged warbler and other neotropical migratory birds. The vast forested lands, grasslands and forb-rich areas provide structurally diverse vegetation for breeding and foraging, and offer the greatest opportunity to combat declines in the golden-winged warbler.

Working Lands for Wildlife will assist private land owners create and maintain the habitat necessary to sustain breeding populations within and adjacent to their current range.

Core Conservation Practices

  • Restoration & Management of Rare & Declining Habitats (643)
  • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (645)
  • Early Successional Habitat Development/Management (647)map of golden-winged warbler focal area

Supporting Conservation Practices

  • Brush Management (314)
  • Herbaceous Weed Control (315)
  • Deep Tillage (324)
  • Conservation Cover (327)
  • Prescribed Burning (338)
  • Critical Area Planting (342)
  • Fence (382)
  • Field Borders (386)
  • Access Control (472)
  • Mulching (484)
  • Tree Shrub Site preparation (490)
  • Forage Harvest management (511)
  • Forage & Biomass Planting (512)
  • Prescribed Grazing (528)
  • Tree/Shrub Establishment (612)
  • Forest Harvest Trails & Landings (655)
  • Forest Stand Improvement (666)

How Does Signup for EQIP Work?

irrigation in blueberries

EQIP applications can be submitted anytime during the year. EQIP has a continuous sign-up with application cut-off dates to rank and prioritize any new or unfunded applications. A signed application can be filed with the local NRCS office at any time. View Current Funding Opportunities for current application periods. A signed application indicates an interest in developing a conservation plan, the first step in the application process.

EQIP is a competitive program that uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess the needs and cost effectiveness of implementing the conservation plan. Applications are grouped for competitive ranking into "funding pools" with the highest ranked applications in each pool selected for contract development. Funding pools that NRCS has established have been cropland, irrigated cropland, livestock, and forestland. View the application documents page for more information on ranking tools.

Contract offers that include practices to address soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, reduced animal waste production and reduced energy consumption are high priority.

Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more about how NRCS is committed to ensuring that its programs and services are accessible to all our customers, fairly and equitably, with emphasis on reaching the under served and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and tribes of our state.

More Information on NRCS Programs