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Florida Among 16 States Included in New Upland Habitat Initiatives

From National Wild Turkey Federation

The NWTF, the leading conservation organization dedicated to improving upland wildlife habitat, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are partnering on two initiatives to enhance critical ecosystems on private land across 16 states.

The golden-winged warbler and longleaf pine initiatives will improve habitat on private land for targeted species and countless other wildlife and plant species that flourish in the same habitat.

“These are landscape scale habitat initiatives that will have far reaching impacts,” said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., the NWTF’s chief conservation officer. “The NWTF and our expert wildlife biologists are uniquely positioned to be the driving force behind these critical, on-the-ground habitat improvements.  These initiatives will make significant impacts on golden-winged warblers, longleaf pines and the countless other species that depend on these shared habitats.”

Daily, 6,000 acres of prime upland habitat are lost to development.  Improving existing habitat will make a significant, long-term impact on upland wildlife and help counter these ongoing losses.

The golden-winged warbler songbird is listed as a Federal Species of Special Concern and has experienced dramatic declines, particularly throughout the greater Appalachian region, due to the loss of critical breeding habitat.  Golden-winged warblers require patchy shrubland and forest edges, which also is critical for a wide range of species, including wild turkey, ruffed grouse and migratory birds.

Longleaf pine forests once covered an estimated 90 million acres across the Southeast; today only 3 percent remains.  Longleaf forests are home to hundreds of wildlife species, including 29 species that are listed as threatened or endangered, and are important to the continuation of these species.  This habitat is extremely important for wild turkeys.

Through these free public-private initiatives, the NWTF will work with 725 private landowners to help them improve habitat on their land by providing technical assistance and preparing habitat management plans.  These efforts will provide expert guidance and help landowners participate in existing federal cost share programs to help fund these critical improvements.  The NWTF also will conduct 38 wildlife habitat management field days to provide landowners with the tools to help wildlife on their lands.

“NRCS is proud to work with the NWTF to further the management of longleaf pine forests and habitat for the golden-winged warbler,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “This partnership provides another opportunity for farmers, ranchers and forestland owners to voluntarily protect this critical wildlife habitat.”

The NWTF and its partners will be contributing $1.75 million to these initiatives to compliment NRCS’s investment.

The golden-winged warbler initiative will include Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The initiative supporting longleaf pine will include the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

For information on participating in either initiative, contact Mark Hatfield at (803) 637-3106 or info@nwtf.net