Building on 20 years of partnerships and collaborative conservation, the NWTF and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are bolstering their joint agreement for the National Forestry Initiative (NFI). The new five-year agreement will provide $7 million in funding for conservation and additional forestry professionals to reach even more private landowners.
“Our work with forestland owners 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. “In partnering with the National Wild Turkey Federation, NRCS looks forward to expanding our impacts and supporting even more forestland owners, especially in underserved communities.”
Over the last four years since the inception of the original agreement in 2018, the partnership has implemented conservation practices on more than 333,000 acres. Now, thanks to a new and enhanced agreement between the NRCS and the NWTF, the NFI is becoming an even more robust platform for promoting forest health and habitat conservation on private lands across the country.
Under the new fire-year agreement - which NWTF has dubbed NFI 2.0 - NRCS will contribute $5.3 million over the life of the agreement to implement volunteer conservation practices on private lands. This will enable the NWTF to bring much-needed forestry capacity and technical expertise across the country to work with private landowners, including landowners within historically underserved communities.
NFI foresters are responsible for delivering technical and financial assistance to private landowners across the nation through farm bill conservation programs. These foresters act as a support system and educational resource for private landowners and conduct an array of duties, ranging from helping landowners apply for conservation programs, to hosting “landowner field days,” 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 accomplished other impressive deliverables, including 2,381 site visits, hosting 178 landowner field days and contributing to 246 tree planting projects, among much more.
While most of the NWTF’s overall conservation delivery occurs on public lands, work accomplished on private lands through the National Forestry Initiative is equally essential. Much of the private lands that benefited through the National Forestry Initiative 1.0 are part of a more extensive ecosystem.
“Private land management allows for significantly more contiguous and healthier habitat for wild turkeys and many other species, not to mention making the landowner’s property safer [firewise], more resilient and more valuable as an asset,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “We are immensely proud to bolster our partnership with the NRCS for the greater good.”