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Wildlife is an integral part of Pennsylvania. From the black bears and wild turkeys in our forests, and the birds and pollinators in our meadows, and the fish and ducks in our waters, wildlife has always played a huge role in Pennsylvania’s landscape, history, and culture.

Most of Pennsylvania is privately owned, which makes the conservation efforts of private landowners especially vital to the future of Pennsylvania’s wildlife. Fortunately, habitat conservation efforts have multiple benefits that stretch far beyond wildlife. Actions that benefit wildlife, like buffering streams, protecting wetlands, putting sensitive ground into long-term cover, managing our forests sustainably, good grazing management, and reducing the amount of bare ground and tillage in agricultural settings, also offer substantial benefits for the people of Pennsylvania: improved water quality and quantity, decreased erosion, multipurpose use of more productive forests, and better and more resilient soils. There are many advantages to be gained through the good management of Pennsylvania’s resources, including wildlife.

Many of Pennsylvania’s wildlife species face significant habitat loss. As people convert land to other uses by development, agriculture, or many other causes, wildlife loses the space, plant communities and other resources it needs for survival. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help landowners to offset these losses through a variety of conservation practices that improve or replace habitat, including but not limited to forest management, the establishment of trees and/or grasslands, the establishment of forested or grassed buffers around bodies of water, the restoration and creation of wetlands, and the creation of pollinator habitat.

Sustainable Forest ManagementPlantings of native warm-season grassesSustainable forest management to create habitat for Golden-winged warbler habitat, through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW). See image at left.
Plantings of native warm-season grasses provide essential food and cover for farmland wildlife. Conservation practices like these are available through many NRCS and USDA programs. See image at right.

Pollinator habitatsWetlands habitat

Pollinator habitat established through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). See image below at left.
Wetlands for duck and wading bird habitat, restored through the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) program. See image at right.


USDA-NRCS Programs that offer conservation practices that can benefit wildlife:

  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – Working Lands for Wildlife  (WLFW)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
  • Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP)
  • Wetland Reserve Easement program (WRE)

Conservation Reserve Program* (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program* (CREP)

*administered by the USDA-Farm Service Agency, with technical assistance from NRCS.


Scott Heckman
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(717) 237–2216

Jim Gillis
State Biologist
(717) 237-2219

Last updated: May 24, 2021