Eight more Washington private landowners have received funds for wildlife habitat restoration through the state's Landowner Incentive Program (LIP).
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), which manages the LIP competitive grant process, awarded the funds after receiving an additional $189,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The funds are designed for projects that benefit salmonids and are made available through the federal Farm Bill's Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.
The eight projects funded with the money were from the first round of LIP applications received earlier this year, explained WDFW Private Lands Coordinator Don Larsen. At that time, the top 80 projects designed to protect, enhance or restore habitat for "species at risk" on privately-owned lands were funded with the program's original $1.5 million.
For LIP eligibility, a species at risk is any fish or wildlife species that is federally or state listed as threatened or endangered, is proposed or is a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered, or is otherwise determined to be at risk by WDFW.
The additional NRCS funds were specifically earmarked for salmonid benefit. The projects awarded included removing removing fish passage barriers on Dogfish Creek in Kitsap County, placing large wood for fish habitat in lower Taneum Creek in Kittitas County, and enhancing tree and shrub cover along Yellowhawk Creek in Walla Walla County.
"We are pleased to be a part of this effort to help compensate private landowners for their efforts to restore a part of Washington's heritage," said state conservationist Gus Hughbanks, head of NRCS' Washington state operations. "We work closely with Fish and Wildlife on other issues, like the Wetland Reserve Program and the Farm Bill in general, and this is just another way for us to pool resources."
NRCS assists private landowners with conserving soil, water, and other natural resources through technical assistance, cost shares, financial incentives, and local partnerships with county conservation districts.
"By virtue of the federal Farm Bill conservation programs, private landowners are key partners in our state's ongoing salmon recovery efforts," WDFW Director Jeff Koenings noted. "This is especially important in Washington because more than half of our land base is in private ownership."
The second round of LIP grant competition opened this month, with about $760,000 available to small forest landowners for fish passage, near shore marine birds, and local watersheds, with an emphasis on the Skagit watershed. Applications will be received until the end of the year. A downloadable application form with instructions is available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/lip/.