SOURCE: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

December 24, 2008 11:33 ET

NRCS Announces Continuous Sign-up for Wildlife Habitat Program

HARRISBURG, PA--(Marketwire - December 24, 2008) - The Natural Resources Conservation Service's Pennsylvania State Conservationist, Craig Derickson, today announced a continuous sign-up for the Fiscal Year 2009 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). "Even though program rules are still being finalized in Washington, we are urging local farmers to apply as early as possible. By accepting WHIP applications now, we can develop conservation plans and be well positioned to provide contracts to producers when the rules are disseminated," said Derickson.

The WHIP program, administered by NRCS, provides both technical and financial assistance to individuals interested in establishing and improving wildlife habitat on private agricultural lands and non-industrial forestland. The financial assistance can include incentive payments for management activities and cost-share for the installation of certain conservation practices.

"Many Pennsylvania landowners are interested in managing their lands for wildlife, but need technical advice and financial assistance to help cover the costs of habitat enhancement," said Derickson. "WHIP may be able to provide the help they need." NRCS will work with participants to develop a wildlife habitat development plan which becomes the basis of the financial assistance agreement. Conservation-minded landowners are encouraged to participate.

NRCS has identified four priorities for the 2009 Pennsylvania WHIP Sign-up:

--  Promote the restoration of declining or important native wildlife
    habitats.
--  Protect, restore, develop or enhance wildlife habitat of at-risk and
    threatened and endangered species.
--  Reduce the impacts of invasive species on wildlife habitats.
--  Protect, restore, develop or enhance declining or important aquatic
    wildlife species' habitats.
    

Practices that can be funded through WHIP include native grass and meadow plantings; tree and shrub plantings; successional habitat management; and stream and stream corridor improvement practices such as stream fencing, fish habitat structures, and riparian forest buffers.

The first step for producers should be to contact your NRCS office (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs), located at your local USDA Service Center. Applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis throughout the year to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. There is no due date to apply, but people are encouraged to apply early to increase the likelihood of being offered a contract. Applications that cannot be funded can be retained for up to two years, after which time the producer will need to re-file a new application.

The application and information about WHIP for fiscal year 2009 are available on the Pennsylvania NRCS Web site at www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Molly McDonough
    (717)237-2208.