Through Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), USDA uses a win-win approach to systematically target conservation efforts to improve agricultural and forest productivity which enhance wildlife habitat on working landscapes. Target species are used as barometers for success because their habitat needs are representative of healthy, functioning ecosystems where conservation efforts benefit a much broader suite of species.
Through the Farm Bill, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to participants who voluntarily make improvements to their working lands while the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) provides participants with regulatory predictability for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This innovative approach empowers landowners with a means to make on-the-ground improvements and provides peace of mind that no matter the legal status of a species, they can keep their working lands working.
The Missouri Department of Conservation created the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP) to increase outdoor recreational opportunities on private land. Under this program, MDC provides annual incentive payments to private landowners who open their land for public recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
While habitat improvement practices will generally not be required on enrolled lands, special incentives are offered to encourage landowners to implement habitat improvements. These incentives include annual payment bonuses and enhanced cost share rates (up to 90 percent). In addition, applicants who commit to making habitat improvements will receive priority ranking points.
To combat the negative effects of grassland degradation---and to keep grass on the landscape---Audubon has developed the Conservation Ranching program. This market-based conservation approach offers incentives for good grassland stewardship through a certification label on beef products. For the first time, consumers can contribute to grassland conservation efforts by selectively purchasing beef from Audubon-certified farms and ranches. The multi-state collaboration with Audubon and local ranchers aims to enhance millions of acres of grassland bird habitat. For each ranch, a Habitat Management Plan is developed that benefits target grassland bird species.
The Audubon certification seal is expected to bring a broad market appeal that should enhance demand by consumers that want options for beef that is sustainably raised and benefits wildlife habitat.
Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies RCPP
This Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) directs additional funds to monarch butterfly habitat efforts across the Midwest (WI, MN, IA, IL, IN, MO, OK, and TX). This project focuses on encouraging landowners to establish monarch-friendly plantings as well as completing practices that assist with managing those beneficial areas by controlling brush and weeds, protecting them from pesticides, and improving grazing systems.
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through existing EQIP and CSP programs to help producers plant milkweed and nectar-rich plants along field borders, in buffers around waterways or wetlands, in pastures and other suitable locations. Milkweed not only provides food for monarchs, it also supports other pollinators such as honey bees that are vital to agriculture. Milkweed also provides homes for beneficial insects that control the spread of destructive insects. NRCS also helps producers manage their pastures in ways that increase critical populations of milkweed and nectar plants while also improving the health of their rangelands.
To accelerate conservation benefits to monarch butterflies, Missouri has developed a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to target conservation efforts at the heart of the butterfly’s habitat and migration route. Conservation practices that provide benefits for pollinators also help reduce erosion, increase soil health, control invasive species, provide quality forage for livestock and make agricultural operations more resilient and productive. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to implement these practices, helping producers improve working lands and strengthening rural economies.
The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified strategic effort of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations—all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee—to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail in this country to levels comparable to 1980.
The first such effort, in 2002, was a paper-based plan by the Southeastern Quail Study Group under the umbrella of Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. That plan, termed the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, attracted considerable attention around the country, including that of the other states in the bobwhite quail range. The result was a broad expansion of the effort and a revision of the plan (and the Southeastern Quail Study Group itself, now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee) to include 25 states in the bobwhite’s core range.
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