Defenders of Wildlife’s private lands team today launched a first of its kind, online tool that allows land trusts to match their unique wildlife conservation needs with federal assistance programs. The tool, dubbed WALT: Wildlife and Land Trusts, is a one-stop-shop for helping land trust staff understand the programs, find the right fit for their land trust’s goals, and get contact information for the appropriate federal staff.
“As stewards of 61 million acres of private land, land trusts are well-positioned to be leaders in stemming the current biodiversity crisis. For example, the Sycamore Land Trust in Indiana works with partners, such as federal agencies, to acquire habitat and implement restoration activities on seasonal wetlands and forestlands to conserve the federally endangered Indiana bat,” said Mary Pfaffko, senior private lands policy analyst for Defenders of Wildlife.
The federal government offers many programs that can provide financial and technical resources to land trusts to conserve wildlife on the land they steward. Navigating the programs, however, can be challenging as they vary widely in terms of requirements, assistance type and amount, and application and implementation process.
Federal agencies featured in the tool include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Defense.
Programs featured in the new tool help land trusts:
• Acquire land,
• Purchase conservation easements,
• Restore or improve habitat,
• Manage forests,
• Sequester greenhouse gas emissions,
• Manage invasive species, and more.
Approximately 70 percent of the continental United States is privately owned. Two-thirds of Endangered Species Act-listed species rely on private lands, and ten percent entirely are restricted to private lands, making conservation on these lands, critically important.