From USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida:
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida is making available about $50 million this year in financial assistance to partner with agricultural producers who want to restore and protect habitat for seven focus species
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Dec. 10, 2015 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is making available about $50 million this year in financial assistance to partner with agricultural producers who want to restore and protect habitat for seven focus species, including the gopher tortoise. Conservation efforts for the gopher tortoise are part of Working Lands for Wildlife, an innovative partnership that supports struggling landscapes and strengthens agricultural operations.
“The decisions of agricultural producers can have significant impacts on wildlife,” said Russell Morgan, NRCS state conservationist in Florida. “By managing land with the gopher tortoise and other wildlife in mind, producers can benefit entire populations while also strengthening their agricultural operations.”
This year, NRCS will invest about $3.7 million on habitat restoration for the gopher tortoise, the keystone species of longleaf pine forests in the Southeast. The tortoise, known for its deep burrows, is listed as threatened in the western part of its range under the Endangered Species Act. Since 2012, NRCS has worked with land managers to make conservation improvements to more than 278,000 acres of pine forests, benefitting the gopher tortoise and many other species.
Technical and financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS financial assistance covers part of the cost to implement conservation practices. For more information, visit your local NRCS field office. To learn more, go to Getting Started with NRCS.