The Farm Bill conservation programs serve as the primary tools for the creation and improvement of wildlife habitat on working lands. Wildlife conservation would benefit from a working land-prioritization system that integrates these programs. We developed a Geographic Information System (GIS)–based system to prioritize land for inclusion in Farm Bill conservation programs. We designed the system to be applicable throughout the United States, to minimize potential conflicts of interest, and to facilitate simple implementation. We designated high conservation value (HCV) lands using habitats of greatest conservation need. We placed priority zones around HCV lands to determine high- and low-priority working lands. Nationwide implementation of this system would require gathering and manipulating data from multiple sources, as well as creation of a GIS layer denoting locations of working lands currently in conservation programs. This system would allow funding to be maximized through the ability to select participation based on property location and size, and to target landowners for participation. The wide-ranging potential benefits of this system make it well-suited for serving as the backbone to conservation on working lands.
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Vol. 73 • No. 4