Indianapolis, IN, March 27, 2018 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is adding Blanding’s turtle, a native species found in several parts of Indiana to its Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) projects. WLFW a targeted, science-based effort that helps producers restore and protect habitat for declining species on farms and forestlands.
With more than two-thirds of the continental United States under private ownership, wildlife depends heavily on working lands for habitat and food. WLFW projects focus on declining species that have needs compatible with agricultural practices and rural land management that can benefit from conservation on private lands. 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.
Farmers and forestland owners in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan can help reverse the decline of the Blanding’s turtle by increasing available high-quality habitat to support their recovery through land protection, as well as restoration and enhancement of habitat.
“Agriculture and wildlife both thrive together through landscape conservation,” said Jill Reinhart, acting state conservationist in Indiana. “We’re excited about this opportunity for our landowners to help the Blanding’s turtle, as well as improve their own operations.”
NRCS works with a large number of stakeholders and partners to determine the areas of greatest potential impact for WLFW projects. NRCS and conservation partnership staff are available to help producers with a conservation plan that benefits both the species and the agricultural operation. Examples of practices include conservation covers, riparian forested buffers, wetland creation and restoration, and management of invasive plants. Financial assistance is available to cover part of the cost of conservation practices.
When habitat is restored for Blanding’s turtle, it is also good for many other species, such as migratory waterfowl, marshbirds, and gamebirds such as the Northern Bobwhite Quail. Conservation efforts also improve water quality and floodwater retention, and offer opportunities for hunting and outdoor recreation.
“The future of wildlife, agriculture and our rural communities depends on our collective ability to transfer our Working Lands for Wildlife model to more working landscapes,” Reinhart said.