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#06-258 September 25, 2006  

Oct 1 is deadline for landowners’ voluntary conservation programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service in South Carolina encourages farmers and private landowners to improve and protect their land and enhance wildlife habitat through two voluntary conservation programs.
The two Farm Bill programs are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. There is a continuous signup for these programs; but apply by Sunday, Oct. 1 to increase your chances of funding.
Landowners interested in applying should visit their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center as soon as possible to prepare their applications. Visit http://www.sc.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ for more information.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program helps farmers improve production while protecting environmental quality by addressing such concerns as soil productivity, prescribed grazing, animal waste, and forestry concerns. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program assists landowners who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat or restore natural ecosystems on their land.
The bobwhite quail has been identified as a priority species in South Carolina and the Farm Bill. Information regarding quail management is available from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Small Game Project at (803) 734-4306 in Columbia.
“Quail and other wildlife are no longer a by-product of typical farming operations,” said Judy Barnes, DNR small game biologist. “These species, which once flourished in an agricultural landscape, require special considerations in order to thrive in today’s landscape. Federal conservation programs provide an economic incentive for farmers and other landowners to create wildlife habitat.”

Simple practices such as the establishment of field borders, filter strips, and riparian buffers, if implemented properly, can provide a tremendous benefit to wildlife, prevent erosion, and preserve soil and water quality. These practices increase grassy, shrubby areas, which provides necessary nesting and brood-rearing habitat for quail, grassland songbirds and other species of wildlife. Other practices beneficial to wildlife include the establishment of hedgerows and field windbreaks, shallow water areas for wildlife and prescribed burning pine stands.
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