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Habitat Work Along Canadian River Benefits Wildlife and Landowners

Through a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Wild Turkey Federation will help landowners enhance their property along the Canadian River in New Mexico and Texas in 2006.

The $160,000 grant is part of the Private Stewardship Grants program, which provides funding assistance to conservation efforts that benefit at-risk wildlife species.

With millions of acres in private hands, it's vital landowners understand their roles in wildlife conservation and the opportunities available to help them enhance their property for wildlife. This is especially true for running waterways and other riparian areas.

"Riparian and watershed habitat is especially important in the west," said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, NWTF senior vice president for conservation programs. "It's critical to a multitude of wildlife species, some considered endangered or at-risk, that we restore and enhance the habitat around these flowing waterways."

The grant will fund the second phase of an NWTF Southern Great Plains Riparian Initiative project to enhance and restore riparian habitat along the Canadian River and its tributaries for lesser prairie chicken, Arkansas River shiner, mountain plover, wild turkeys and other wildlife dependent on riparian areas.

Through the grant, landowners will only have to cover a percentage of the costs to fence waterways, eliminate invasive plant species and plant native vegetation. Landowners will also receive expert advice on their conservation plans from NWTF biologists.

The first grant project included riparian fencing, invasive species control, planting trees and grasses, and creating alternative water sources for cattle. The second phase of the project will continue those efforts.

"The majority of habitat along the Canadian River is privately owned," said Joel Pedersen, NWTF senior biologist. "We are excited about the past success of this initiative and look forward to helping additional landowners enhance their property for wildlife. It is only through landowner cooperation that this project is possible."

In addition, the grant also paid for a Hunting Heritage Landowner Program Field Day on the Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area so Texas landowners could learn conservation techniques for enhancing riparian habitat.

Through the Southern Great Plains Riparian Initiative, NWTF volunteers restore wildlife habitat along flowing waterways to prevent erosion and to provide food and cover for wildlife. Riparian habitat includes rivers, streams and creeks, and is very important wildlife habitat in the southwestern states.

To date, 18,800 acres have been improved through the NWTF's Southern Great Plains Riparian Initiative.

Landowners in the Canadian River watershed interested in participating in this project should call the NWTF at (800) THE-NWTF.

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