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19

NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is offering one-time incentive payments for high value habitat practices in several USDA programs in targeted bobwhite restoration counties in 2012.

Bobwhite quail, along with other wildlife that depend on the same habitats, such as field sparrows, Bachman’s sparrows and cottontail rabbits, have been suffering from long-term population declines.

The TWRA incentives are in addition to the regular cost-share and other payments in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Practices for which TWRA incentive payments will be offered include:
*Conversion of at least 5 acres cropland or grassland to native grassland with native shrub thicket and/or hedgerows
*Establishment of at least 5 acres of pollinator habitat (wildflowers with some native grasses and shrubs) in blocks and/or field buffers
*Performing prescribed burning, strip disking, strip herbicide application, and/or shrubby cover development on at least 5 acres of existing native grasses not currently under an active USDA contract
*Prescribed burning of thinned woodlands
*Development of shrubby cover by thinning the edges of woodlands adjacent to fields and/or renovation of existing hedgerows
*Establishment of wide (over 50 foot average width) native grass buffers in the Conservation Reserve Program

Counties in which the incentives will be offered include:
*West Tennessee – Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henry, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Tipton, Weakley
*Middle Tennessee – Coffee, Franklin, Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson
East Tennessee – McMinn, Meigs, Rhea, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins

In these programs, a TWRA or USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) biologist will develop a management plan for your property to address the priority wildlife and other resource needs. In the WHIP and EQIP programs, your plans will be scored and ranked against other contracts for acceptance. Offers that include the identified practices are awarded additional ranking points. The CRP practices are available on a noncompetitive continuous signup basis, and will be automatically approved if the land and landowners meet eligibility requirements.

In Tennessee, the CRP now also offers, in addition to the CP33-Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds practice (typically established on crop field edges), the CP29-Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Habitat Buffers and CP30-Marginal Pastureland Wetland Buffers. These can be applied on marginal pasturelands adjacent to sinkholes and degraded stream banks.

The TWRA incentives are paid after the eligible practices are applied to the land. TWRA funds are limited, and will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis while funding lasts.
“We are offering the TWRA incentive payment to highlight and increase enrollment in practices that provide the best habitat for bobwhites and associated native grassland wildlife,” said Mark Gudlin, TWRA Private Lands Liaison. “Several of the program opportunities are relatively new, such as the CP29 and CP30 practices and the edge feathering and hedgerow renovation practices in WHIP and EQIP. Furthermore, we are trying to increase participation in counties that have the best chance for bobwhite recovery.”

For more information, contact your local USDA Service Center or your local TWRA or NRCS Wildlife Biologist. Contact information for these offices and biologists, along with information on conservation programs and practices, is available at www.twraprivatelands.org .
 

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