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USDA Offers Incentives for Bird Habitat Restoration

December 13th, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has financial assistance available for landowners to improve or establish specialized bird habitats. Private landowners in the Saginaw Bay, Western Lake Erie Basin and the Tacoosh/Whitefish watersheds are eligible for the assistance but must submit an application before Jan. 20, 2012.

Funding for the initiative is provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is targeted to grassland and woodland birds threatened by habitat loss. The financial assistance is available to landowners for establishing or improving grassland and young forest habitat. Interested landowners, including owners of agricultural and recreational land, can apply at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

The financial assistance can be used for implementing designated conservation practices to improve wildlife habitat. Examples of practices eligible for this financial assistance include, native grasses and wildflower plantings, site preparation, tree and shrub plantings and selective removal of trees to create young forest habitat.

Loss of habitat is the main cause for a decline in population of some native bird species in Michigan. Conservation practices eligible for the GLRI initiative are targeted to provide habitat for grassland birds such as the ring-necked pheasant and short-eared owl. Bird species that rely on young forest habitat are also targeted under the initiative and include the American woodcock and ruffed grouse.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed includes Arenac, Bay, Genesee, Gladwin, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw and Tuscola counties and portions of Clare, Gratiot, Huron, Iosco, Lapeer, Livingston, Mecosta, Montcalm, Oakland, Ogemaw and Shiawassee counties. The Western Lake Erie Basin includes all of Lenawee and Monroe counties and portions of Hillsdale, Jackson, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. The Tacoosh/Whitefish watershed includes portions of Alger, Delta and Marquette counties.

Potential applicants, particularly those who have never participated in USDA programs, are encouraged to start the application process as soon as possible. Applications received by Jan. 20, will be ranked with the highest scoring applications funded. For more information contact your local NRCS field office or visit the NRCS-Michigan Web site at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.

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