USDA rolls out program to support Wyoming's big game populations


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There’s a new way that landowners can support conservation and big game populations in Wyoming. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new partnership that “uses diverse Farm Bill investments to support voluntary conservation of private working lands and migratory big game populations” during the University of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park 150th Anniversary Symposium, according to a press release.  

“Conserving America’s most iconic wildlife and wildlife migration corridors depends on the conservation of private working lands and tribal lands through voluntary, collaborative incentives that reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship of their lands,” said Robert Bonnie, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “Today’s announcement results from consultation with the State of Wyoming and local stakeholders to create new and enhanced opportunities through USDA’s conservation programs to expand our work with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to conserve wildlife and migration corridors and to keep working lands working.”

“Wyoming leads the nation in our approaches to conserving big game and their movements. We’ve done that with strong landowner partnerships and an acknowledgement that habitat conservation can be done on multi-use landscapes,” said Brian Nesvik, Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Private landowners provide key habitat for wildlife seen in Yellowstone National Park. Offering voluntary funding opportunities to landowners to maintain this valuable space for wildlife is a recognition of their role in conservation.”

Interested landowners will be able to utilize several USDA programs already in place like the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program, which will provide technical and financial assistance for voluntary landowners interested in maintaining their land so it continues to support migratory big game populations. The program will focus on agricultural land protection; restoration, enhancement and management; and conservation leases with an initial $15 million investment along with additional rental payments to land owners enrolled in the Grasslands Conservation Reserve Program. 

If you are a landowner interested in participating in the program, you should contact your local USDA Service Center.

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