For those farm owners who may have some conservation areas set aside to protect native habitat and wildlife, here is a great opportunity that you might be interested in especially if this area protects gopher tortoise sites. It is nice when we can point to programs on farm that benefits the greater community by protecting biodiversity.
Release No. 152012 Contact: Jeffrey Woods, 352-338-9515
For Immediate Release
Historic Agreement Reached to Extend Wildlife Conservation Efforts
Regulatory Predictability will help Florida Farmers and Ranchers Improve Gopher Tortoise Habitat
GAINESVILLE, FL, Sept. 21, 2012 –An agreement between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will provide long-term regulatory predictability for up to 30 years to Florida’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative.
Under the WLFW partnership, federal, state and wildlife experts jointly identified at-risk or listed species that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration investments on private lands. Using the best available science, these wildlife experts prioritized restoration actions on a large regional scale to focus assistance most cost effectively. In Florida, the gopher tortoise was identified. NRCS, FWS and numerous state and local entities such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are partnering to implement WLFW.
“This agreement provides Florida landowners with a way to keep working lands in production while complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” Carlos Suarez said. “It helps our farmers, ranchers and forest landowners rest a little easier knowing their operations are protected in the long term and that they are helping conserve gopher tortoise habitat and essential natural resources.”
The agreement builds on a $33 million investment NRCS announced last spring dedicated toward producers who develop and implement conservation plans to manage and restore high-priority habitats for seven specific wildlife species across the country.
With today’s agreement, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who implement and voluntarily agree to maintain the proven conservation practices in WLFW will have addressed the related ESA regulatory responsibilities for up to 30 years. These landowners will be able to operate their farms and ranches as agreed upon, providing economic benefits and species conservation simultaneously.
The federal government will grant farmers, ranchers and forest landowner’s regulatory predictability in return for voluntarily making wildlife habitat improvements on their private agricultural and forest lands. Participating producers must adhere to the requirements of each conservation practice during the term of their contract, which can last from one to 15 years. If landowners would like to receive regulatory predictability for up to 30 years, they must maintain the conservation practices as outlined in the NRCS and FWS agreement.
For more information about Working Lands for Wildlife, please visit the national WLFW website. Additional information on NRCS, conservation assistance, and other programs is available on the web at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA - NRCS office. To find the nearest office go to your telephone directory under “U. S. Government, Department of Agriculture”, or http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.