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The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has been notified by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Tennessee that Jan. 16 is the signup cutoff date for first evaluation funding consideration in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Applicants interested in improving wildlife habitat on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestlands are encouraged to submit an application at their local NRCS office by that date.

“Winter is a great time to evaluate habitat components for wildlife as deficiencies in protective cover and food tend to be at their lowest point of the year and are most apparent then,” said Mark Gudlin, TWRA Assistant Chief of Wildlife, Habitat Management. “This also gives landowners and producers time to plan changes into their annual cropping, pasture management and other field and forest management strategies before spring arrives.”

Eligible producers with a conservation plan for their operation receive priority for financial assistance. Only projects that are “ready to implement” will be ranked for funding. Pending the availability of funds, additional evaluation periods may occur and cutoff dates will be posted on the Tennessee NRCS website on the EQIP page.

Even if an application is not submitted by Jan.16, interested producers and landowners are encouraged to submit applications at any time of the year. NRCS staff is available to help producers create conservation plans, and TWRA wildlife habitat biologists will work with applicants that have a wildlife interest.

They will develop, free-of-charge, a custom habitat management plan for their property and can often guide them to assistance offered through one or more federal or state conservation programs or conservation organizations.

The funds from EQIP help farmers improve the natural resources and soil health on private working lands in Tennessee. Conservation practices help the environment while also making the land more productive by addressing issues like water quantity, water and air quality, wildlife habitat, and soil health.

For location of NRCS offices, contact information for TWRA biologists, and additional information on wildlife habitat and conservation programs, see , or contact the TWRA Wildlife & Forestry Division at (615) 781-6610. For EQIP program information, contact John Rissler, NRCS, at (615) 277-2576.

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