The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will be investing $500 million dollars over the next five years into expanding wildlife conservation. All available conservation programs will be utilized including Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through its Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) effort. This commitment will elevate the conservation assistance for farmers, ranchers, private forest owners, and tribes with a primary focus on working lands in key geographies across the country. Additionally, cutting-edge science and local knowledge will help deliver private interests and goals for conservation resources.
The funding will include $250 million from the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and $250 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This is an example of the continued efforts to grow Farm Bill investments in wildlife habitat and historic investments from the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Working lands are vital for wildlife habitat, clean water, and mitigating climate change. The Working Lands for Wildlife Program is unparalleled as a model for voluntary conservation collaboration with farmers and ranchers to improve the long-term health of wildlife, people, and the lands and waters they share,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This historic investment in and expansion of the Working Lands for Wildlife program is a game changer and will safeguard a broad array of species, from elk in the West to song birds in the East and everything in-between.”
The USDA will also develop four new strategies under the Working Lands for Wildlife program that will be announced next year to:
• Conserve and maintain western migratory pathways across landscapes
• Restore forest health and wildlife habitats in eastern deciduous forests
• Restore eastern rivers and wetlands to support connectivity in watersheds with at-risk species
• Establish and maintain southeastern native pines with cultural, ecological, and economic value
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