A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
USDA and Interior Announce Wildlife Conservation Efforts to Support Local Economies and Preserve Farm and Ranch Traditions
Office of the Secretary
Innovative partnership preserves working lands and supports efforts of private landowners to conserve habitat for at-risk species
WASHINGTON —Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced a new $33 million partnership with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to use innovative approaches to restore and protect the habitats for wildlife, including seven at-risk species and other vulnerable game species.
The announcement of the Working Lands for Wildlife partnership follows last week's White House Conference on Conservation that spotlighted community-driven conservation efforts as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.
“America's natural resources play a significant role in building a strong and vibrant economy,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Agricultural lands with healthy and abundant wildlife habitat support strong incomes for our farmers and ranchers and provide great opportunities for enhancing hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing."
“This innovative partnership aligns our goals of empowering America's farmers and ranchers to continue working their lands, while furthering conservation of imperiled species, such as the greater sage grouse, through voluntary measures,” Secretary Salazar said. “The Working Lands for Wildlife initiative will allow us to focus our resources where we can do the most good and will serve as a model for a more efficient, more effective, and more cooperative way to improve the health and diversity of working landscapes and strengthen local economies.”
Under this strategy, Federal, state and local wildlife experts jointly identify at-risk species that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration investments on private lands. Using the best available science, the partners will prioritize restoration actions on a large regional scale to most cost effectively focus assistance. 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.
Today's announcement kicks-off the sign-up for Working Lands for Wildlife. Landowners can sign-up to manage and restore high-priority habitats for the seven specific wildlife species that are located across the country. Applications within the priority habitat areas will receive highest consideration.
Interested producers and landowners in targeted areas can enroll in the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) on a continuous basis at their local NRCS field office. NRCS funds from WHIP will share the cost of conservation practices with landowners in areas known to support one or more of the selected species. For example, two conservation practices that improve sage-grouse habitat are prescribed grazing and brush management. In the past two years, ranchers implemented grazing systems on 1.3 million acres of large sagebrush to improve cattle forage and increase hiding cover for nesting birds. The additional grass cover is projected to increase sage-grouse populations by 8 to 10 percent.
For 14 years, WHIP has worked to protect, restore or develop fish and wildlife habitat for many species, including those considered at-risk. Since 2003, about $310 million has been committed to 23,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to provide wildlife treatments on four million acres of private working lands.
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