The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Trout Unlimited (TU) have installed more than one million feet of agricultural fencing throughout West Virginia to help farmers keep livestock out of streams, greatly improving habitat for fish and wildlife.
This ongoing project is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program, which is supported under the federal Farm Bill. Other partners include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA), West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) programs and over 200 West Virginia landowners.
“We strive to match landowners with conservation needs with a partnership of federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations whose missions are to conserve our natural resources. It's a beautiful thing that we can work together on this,” said John Schmidt, State Coordinator for the USFWS PFW program.
Landowners around the state realize that this project helps protect their land and their local watersheds.
“One million feet gives one million reasons why conservation partnerships work for fish, wildlife, farm animals, land managers and the hundreds of landowners who have benefitted from this work,” said Gary Berti, director of TU’s Eastern Home Rivers Initiative.
Based on the USFWS Division of Economics 2010 report, “An Assessment of Economic Contributions from Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation,” these habitat restoration projects have an estimated economic value of $50 million across the country when in full productivity.
The Farm Bill has been and continues to be a crucial source of funding for high-quality conservation work across the state. The CBF, NRCS, the FSA and WVCA provide financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. The Farm Bill is instrumental in placing sound conservation practices on the ground for hundreds of landowners and farmers throughout the state.
"Probably the most rewarding thing for me about this the program is that it helps keep farmers on the their land by increasing productivity and reducing costs while at the same time it protects water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife. It's a real win-win situation for the taxpayers," Schmidt said.