The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has recently allocated $100,000 in funding for the Tennessee Partner’s Project (TPP) to help improve waterfowl habitat through the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
The TPP is a local multi-agency partnership effort that includes the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited, Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, UT Extension Service, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that hopes to return waterfowl to the breeding ground physically conditioned for maximum reproductive success.
Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist Tim Willis says, “The Tennessee Partner’s Project has been very successful. It is a true partnership among various agencies and organizations that share a common goal of enhancing wintering waterfowl habitat while improving water quality.”
Tennessee landowners can apply for funding on a continuous basis but the next funding deadline is February 15, 2013 at their local USDA Service Center. These conservation practices will provide habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, and other wetland dependent wildlife. If selected, producers can utilize these funds to install water control structures, build or repair dikes that will promote minimum or no-till farming, increase soil moisture, and inhibit weed growth while providing wetland habitat.
The Tennessee Partners Project is designed to provide water and food sources for wintering waterfowl and associated wetland species in the Tennessee portion of the birds’ migration route. Participating landowners receive a project construction plan, financial assistance for water control structure materials, technical assistance during installation, and management recommendations.
According to Mike Hansbrough, USDA-NRCS Area Biologist, “Impounded water will allow settlement of silt and pesticides and inhibit runoff into surface water that drains into streams, rivers, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. These structures will also help control flooding, control erosion, and improve biodiversity for a wide range of wildlife.”
Selected projects will encompass a minimum of 5 acres of surface water and adjacent habitat buffer zones. Participants agree to sign a minimum 10-year Wetland Development Agreement, not permit hunting after 12 noon, and permit an annual inspection by any representation of the partners.
More information on Ducks Unlimited Conservation Projects can be found at http://www.ducks.org/tennessee/tennessee-projects. Applications for Tennessee Partners Project assistance funds can be made at your local USDA Service Center. For more information on USDA Conservation Programs please visit: http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/.