The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 29, 2012

Wildlife conservation efforts extended

MORGANTOWN — Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced an agreement providing long-term regulatory predictability for up to 30 years to farmers and forest landowners participating in NRCS’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative. WLFW uses a voluntary, innovative and proactive approach with farmers and forest managers to benefit high-priority habitat for seven species of wildlife that are at-risk or candidate/listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) while helping their operations remain viable and productive.

Working Lands for Wildlife gives peace of mind to farmers and forest landowners. As long as they maintain proven conservation practices on their land that benefit WLFW species, they can rest assured they will remain compliant with ESA regulatory responsibilities for up to 30 years. Through WLFW, landowners can receive technical and financial assistance by volunteering to restore habitat for specific species on their land.

“We are working to remove the fear around the Endangered Species Act and to empower private landowners across the country to keep working lands working while simultaneously protecting and sustaining at-risk species,” said NRCS State Conservationist Kevin Wickey.

WLFW is focusing on seven selected species throughout the country including the golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) here in West Virginia.

The golden-winged warbler and many other species, like ruffed grouse or woodcock, use shrubby early successional habitats for breeding. These areas include idle vegetated areas, forest clear-cuts, alder swamps, areas harvested for timber, utility right-of ways, and similar areas. The decline in the availability of these habitats may be caused by development, re-forestation of farmland, fire suppression, and changes in agricultural and forestry practices.

For more information about Working Lands for Wildlife, please visit Interested producers and landowners in priority areas can enroll at their local NRCS field office. Applications within the priority habitat areas (private lands 2,000 to 3,200 feet in elevation) will receive highest consideration.

High priority counties are Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker. Medium priority counties are Barbour, Fayette, McDowell, Nicholas, Preston, Raleigh, Summers, Taylor, Upshur, Webster, and Wyoming.