AUGUSTA — Eligible Maine forest landowners will be able to apply for federal funds to assist them with forest land planning and management while improving wildlife habitat on their property, thanks to increased funding from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
NRCS Chief Dave White recently announced the allocation of an additional $5.9 million in Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) funding under the New England/New York Forestry Initiative, $2 million of which are for projects in Maine, according to a press release from the Maine Department of Conservation.
The federal funding is a result of efforts such as the Keeping Maine’s Forests Initiative, according to state officials. Keeping Maine’s Forests is a broad coalition of forest interests ranging from land and mill owners to conservation organizations that have called attention to the importance of efforts to maintain Maine’s forest land base.
“The main goal of this effort is to promote exemplary stewardship among private landowners by assisting them to improve forest health and productivity, wildlife habitat and water quality,” White said in a prepared statement. “Besides providing economic benefits, forests are home to diverse communities of fish and wildlife. Through sound planning and management, our goal is to help private landowners keep forests as forests.”
The funds can be used for a wide variety of activities to improve wildlife habitats, from enhancing aquatic habitats by reducing erosion to improving creatures from birds to reptiles on land, according to Juan Hernandez, NRCS state conservationist for Maine.
For example, the funds could be used for activities such as enhancing the regeneration of softwoods in deer wintering areas, that are critical to survival of white-tailed deer, particularly in the northern and western portions of the state. Both state and federal agencies have identified improved management of deer wintering areas as an important priority.
For more information contact the Maine Department of Conservation at 287-3156.