Saturday, May 05, 2007
sponsored by Graue Inc. & Illini Bank

Habitat restoration and enhancement applications open to Illinois landowners 

Lower Sangamon River Watershed includes Logan County

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[May 05, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Landowner Incentive Program will be taking applications for habitat restoration and enhancement projects at 12 county soil and water conservation districts in the Lower Sangamon River Watershed through June 1. The 12 counties are Cass, Christian, DeWitt, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, McLean, Piatt, Sangamon and Tazewell.

The Illinois Landowner Incentive Program is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and local soil and water conservation districts to help landowners manage for wildlife on private lands. The program is focused on implementing the Illinois Fish and Wildlife Action Plan and must show benefits to threatened and endangered species or species listed in the plan as being in "greatest need of conservation." Some habitats for these species include wetlands, tallgrass prairie, hill prairie, bottomland oak and hickory timber, upland oak and hickory timber, open oak woodland and savanna, and stream restorations. Management practices that are commonly used for Landowner Incentive Program projects include hill prairie restoration, exotic species removal, timber stand improvement and prescribed fire.

The Landowner Incentive Program is currently restoring over 300 acres with 13 projects in the Lower Sangamon River Watershed and has provided technical assistance to improve another 1,000 acres through other private land programs. The Landowner Incentive Program provides a number of benefits for landowners, including cost share for approved management practices to restore or improve habitat quality on private land, to increase awareness of Illinois' natural resources and the needs of rare species, and to improve hunting and recreational opportunities on their property. The Landowner Incentive Program is a management-based program and pays for 75 percent of the costs associated with implementing a management plan. Landowners can pay the remaining 25 percent of costs in cash or by working on approved practices from the management plan.

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Landowner Incentive Program funding is still available to restore rare habitats and keep targeted species from becoming threatened or endangered. The number of funded projects will be contingent on available funding. Proposed projects are evaluated by several criteria, including whether or not the site is protected with a permanent easement, the number of listed species present on the site, and whether the proposed project is consistent with the Illinois Fish and Wildlife Action Plan.

Of particular interest are areas currently designated as Illinois Natural Areas Inventory sites, Illinois Nature Preserves, Illinois Land and Water Reserves, and land that is adjacent to sites where rare species or habitats exist.

The Landowner Incentive Program does not offer annual payments, and it is not a land acquisition program. While the program is not geared toward taking land out of production, cropland that does restore habitat near high-quality sites will be considered for funding. Landowners of the Lower Sangamon River Watershed should contact their local soil and water conservation district for more information and to submit a potential project eligibility form.

The Logan County Soil and Water Conservation District is located at 1650 Fifth Street Road, Lincoln, IL 62656; phone 217-735-5508, ext. 3. Eligibility forms are available at the office.

[Text from news release from the Illinois Landowner Incentive Program]

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