The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received notification from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Tennessee that more than $1 million has been allocated for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).
Owners and operators of agricultural land and (non-industrial) private forestland who are interested in applying for WHIP have a June 10, deadline. Applications are received throughout the year, but cutoff dates are set to rank applications for funding.
In WHIP, biologists provide technical assistance and help landowners develop a conservation plan that improves and preserves wildlife habitat. NRCS can provide financial assistance to eligible landowners and operators to develop or enhance the planned upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas on their property.
Eligible producers with a conservation plan for their operation receive priority for financial assistance. Only projects that are “ready to implement” will be ranked for funding.
In addition to the regular WHIP allotment, funding is also available through the “Working Lands For Wildlife” program which specifically targets the Golden-winged Warbler within specific zones above 2,500 feet elevation in two East Tennessee zones within Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan, and Scott counties, and Carter, Greene, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. The Golden-winged warbler is a songbird in critical decline that depends on young forest and shrubby field habitats. Practices eligible under the Golden-winged Warbler Initiative can also improve habitat for other wildlife including turkeys, deer, quail, rabbits, ruffed grouse, and woodcock.
TWRA has four private lands biologists that work with landowners to develop management plans to improve wildlife habitat within the context of their farm and forestland operations. These biologists are located in the four NRCS area service centers located in Jackson, Murfreesboro, Cookeville, and Knoxville.
For additional information, producers are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center or TWRA private lands biologist. Service center locations, biologist contact information, and more information on the programs can be found at or www.twraprivatelands.org or www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov.