Joel D. Glover, Certified Wildlife Biologist
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) has partnered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to make wildlife professionals available to meet the needs of Alabama landowners. The Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Unit (WHEU) consists of three WFF Certified Wildlife Biologists who work in conjunction with NRCS District Conservationists statewide to deliver technical wildlife management assistance to private landowners through U.S. Department of Agriculture programs authorized under the Farm Bill. The primary Farm Bill program the WHEU biologists help administer is the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). The program provides a financial incentive payment to landowners who successfully implement approved practices to develop, enhance and maintain good wildlife habitat on their property.
Bobwhite quail and longleaf pine habitats are priority areas in Alabama. Major practices include eradication of non-native grasses, conversion to native grasses, prescribed burning, precommercial thinning, establishment of legumes and restoration of longleaf pine habitat.
Privately owned property is ranked according to a standard scoring system with highest ranking properties being funded as money is available. The ranking system is designed to allow all landowners equal opportunity to qualify. While not all landowners will receive funding, many are funded each year. Once a project is approved, the landowner is responsible for having the practice(s) completed according to plan standards. Once completed, the practice will be checked and if satisfactory, the landowner will receive the predetermined payment.
WHEU biologists, like all WFF biologists, will be glad to visit your property to make recommendations to help you achieve your objectives. Applying to participate in a Farm Bill program in no way guarantees you will receive financial assistance. However, failure to apply will guarantee you will not receive any monetary assistance! Although the ranking system is designed to fairly distribute funding, the amount of funding is limited.
There are numerous USDA Farm Bill programs that can enhance the wildlife habitat on your property. To learn more, contact your local NRCS District Conservationist or Wildlife Biologist. You may also Chris Cook, technical assistance coordinator at 205-339-5716.