Whitesburg KY

Wildlife habitat, wetlands programs set

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). Landowners may apply for WHIP at any time, however applications received by June 27 will be evaluated and considered for the 2008 program year. Applications received after that date will be held until the next evaluation period.

The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) deadline has been set for June 20. WRP applications are continually accepted and those received after June 20 will remain on file until the next ranking cycle.

WHIP provides landowners an opportunity to improve wildlife habitat. The program provides financial incentives for installing eligible practices on land they own or control. The landowner must devote at least 10 acres to eligible wildlife practices.

In Kentucky, the primary focus of WHIP is to improve early successional and forestland habitats for declining species and other wildlife. Restoring remnant prairies, planting native grasses, shrubs and trees, implementing wildlife beneficial forest stand improvements, and creating shallow water areas are some of the eligible practices for the program.

Excluding livestock from sensitive streams and woodland is also important. Since WHIP focuses on improvement to wildlife cover, food plots are not eligible.

WHIP applications are evaluated and ranked to determine which applications provide the most beneficial habitats.

Landowners participating in WRP will receive the fair market value of the land and can enroll their land under a 30- year or permanent easement for a lump sum easement payment with up to 100 percent of the wetland restoration costs covered. Eligible lands include farmed wetlands, prior converted cropland, farmed wetland pasture, farmland that floods from rivers, farmland with somewhat poorly drained soils, and current or abandoned cropland with tile lines, drainage ditches, dikes or similar alterations.

For more information or to submit an application, contact Don Hurst, district conservationist, at (606) 666-5138 or Derek Bread, biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, at (859) 224-7405.

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