Innovative partnership preserves working lands and supports efforts of private landowners to conserve habitat for Sage Grouse and the southwestern willow flycatcher
DAVIS, Calif., March 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has signups underway for wildlife conservation efforts to enhance habitat for Sage Grouse, a ground dwelling bird found in sagebrush steppe areas in eastern parts of the state, and for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, a small bird that resides along riparian areas in Southern California.
NRCS is accepting applications for funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for the Sage Grouse Initiative through Monday, April 16, 2012. NRCS is also accepting applications for funding through the Wildlife Incentive Program (WHIP) for the Sage Grouse Initiative and a new program focused on the southwestern willow flycatcher through Monday, April 30, 2012.
New this year, private landowners in eligible areas will have an opportunity to apply for targeted WHIP funding through the Working Lands for Wildlife Partnership announced recently by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The aim of the partnership is to focus available conservation dollars and wildlife expertise on the recovery of "at risk species" that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration. In return for voluntarily making habitat improvements on their lands, the Federal government will provide landowners with regulatory certainty that they will not be asked to take additional conservation actions.
USDA's NRCS and Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will jointly prepare species recovery tools, such as informal agreements, safe harbor agreements and habitat conservation plans to provide regulatory certainty to landowners. The goal is to have these tools in place for all priority species, including Sage Grouse and the southwestern willow flycatcher, by the end of the year.
Interested applicants should note that funding for the Sage Grouse Initiative is available through two popular conservation programs that have different signup deadlines. Applications will continue to be accepted after these deadlines, but ranking and funding decisions will be deferred until the next funding cycle. More information can be found at http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/.
SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service