Louisiana’s “Working Wetlands” Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) was recently funded, along with 25 other CCPI projects in 15 states. The Working Wetlands CCPI project offers opportunities for landowners to implement various enhancements activities that fit within their working operation, and at the same time, provide multiple habitat types for a variety of wetland dependent wildlife species.
Through the initiative, a partnership of federal, state and non-government organizations will provide assistance to rice and crawfish producers within the project area to encourage management of fields as necessary to promote habitat for migrating and resident birds.
“Rice and crawfish farms are a major part of Louisiana’s coastal landscape,” said Kevin Norton, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “The same fields used to produce crops also support migrant and resident water birds. The Working Wetlands CCPI will help landowners improve their fields to meet life cycle requirements of these birds.”
Dr. Steve Linscombe, Director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, said the initiative has been under development for at least two years, and the development of the proposal was spearheaded by Dr. Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter Rice Specialist, and Dr. Ernest Girouard, Director of the LSU AgCenter Master Farmer Program. He said the Louisiana Rice Growers Association approached the LSU AgCenter for help with working out details to present to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“This initiative would not have come about without the diligence and perseverance of many people including, but not limited to, Johnny Saichuk, Ernest Girouard and Jeff Durand, former chairman of the Louisiana Rice Producers Association,” Linscombe said.
Working Wetlands CCPI partners include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Master Farmer Program and the Gulf Coast Joint Venture. These partners will implement the Working Wetlands CCPI using the existing Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
This week’s Working Wetlands CCPI announcement comes on the heels of a rollout of another partnership effort to enhance habitat for migratory birds--the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative. While the initiatives are similar in that both programs develop habitat for migrating birds, there are differences in the initiatives. Differences include participating geographic regions, payment rates and length of projects.
Farmers and ranchers located in the ten-parish Working Wetlands CCPI area may now apply through their local NRCS office for financial and technical assistance. These farmers and ranchers can use their assistance to address conservation priorities; meet federal, state and local regulatory requirements related to production; meet federal, state and local regulatory requirements related to production; cooperate to install and maintain conservation practices and develop and demonstrate innovative conservation practices and delivery methods.
Additional information about specific CCPI projects and NRCS programs is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs or a local USDA NRCS office.
NRCS is celebrating 75 years of helping people help the land. Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.