EDGEFIELD, SC — Building on 20 years of partnerships and collaborative conservation, the NWTF and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are strengthening their joint agreement for the National Forest Initiative (NFI). The new five-year agreement will provide $7 million in conservation funding and additional forestry professionals to reach more private landowners.
“Our work with forest landowners plays an important role in improving wildlife habitat and supporting climate-smart conservation practices,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “By partnering with the National Wild Turkey Federation, NRCS hopes to expand our impacts and further support forest landowners, especially in underserved communities.”
Over the past four years since the original agreement began in 2018, the association has implemented conservation practices on more than 333,000 acres. Now, thanks to a new and improved agreement between the NRCS and the NWTF, the NFI is becoming an even stronger platform for promoting forest health and habitat conservation on private lands across the country.
Under the new fire year agreement, which the NWTF has dubbed NFI 2.0, NRCS will contribute $5.3 million over the life of the agreement to implement voluntary conservation practices on private lands. This will allow the NWTF to bring much-needed forestry capacity and technical expertise across the country to work with private landowners, including landowners in historically underserved communities.
The new agreement will increase the current number of NFI foresters from 25 to 31. These foresters will work with private owners in 26 states across the country.
NFI Foresters are responsible for providing technical and financial assistance to private landowners across the country through farm bill conservation programs. These foresters act as a support system and educational resource for private landowners and perform a number of functions, ranging from helping landowners apply for conservation programs to organizing “owner picnics.” , which are educational events that illustrate how NRCS programs benefit the landscape. the landowner and wildlife.
In addition to conserving and influencing 333,745 acres during the first four years of the previous NRCS agreement, NFI foresters achieved other impressive accomplishments, including 2,381 site visits, hosting 178 owner picnics, and contributing to 246 tree planting projects. trees, among much more.
While most of NWTF’s overall conservation delivery occurs on public lands, the work done on private lands through the National Forest Initiative is equally essential. Much of the private land benefited through the National Forest Initiative 1.0 is part of a larger ecosystem.
“Private land management allows for significantly more contiguous and healthier habitat for wild turkeys and many other species, not to mention makes the owner’s property safer [firewise], more resilient and more valuable as an asset,” said NWTF Co-Executive Director Kurt Dyroff. “We are immensely proud to strengthen our partnership with the NRCS for the greater good.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested more than half a billion dollars in wildlife conservation and positively impacted more than 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested more than $8.5 million in wild turkey research to ensure the wild turkey population remains healthy. The organization continues to fulfill its mission by working across borders at the landscape scale to increase abundant clean water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and strong recreational opportunities across the US. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF will continue its work to provide Healthy Habitats and Healthy Crops for future generations.