Terry Z. Riley
Wildlife Society Bulletin 32 (1), 83-91, (1 March 2004) https://doi.org/10.2193/0091-7648(2004)32[83:PHOFPG]2.0.CO;2
KEYWORDS: Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Security Program, CRP, CSP, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, EQIP, Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, federal conservation programs, grassland, Grassland Easement Program, Grassland Reserve Program, GRP, Landowner Incentive Program, LIP, native prairie, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, prairie grouse, private land, State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, WHIP, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
Habitat alterations have resulted in significant declines in the populations of prairie grouse (Centrocercus minimus, C. urophasianus, Tympanuchus cupido, T. pallidicinctus, T. phasianellus) throughout the last century. Landscape-level habitat restoration through federal conservation programs may be the only option available to prevent several of these species from declining to dangerously low levels. I examined 7 federal conservation programs available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 5 programs through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine how they might be used to restore and protect habitat for prairie grouse on private land. The USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has restored ≥15 million ha of grassland with cost-share agreements and 10-year contracts. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has the potential to restore habitat for prairie grouse because it is well funded and primarily focused on improving livestock operations on grasslands, much of which occurs on native prairies. Other USDA conservation programs provide the necessary funding and incentives to landowners to protect and restore prairie grouse habitat, but competition among states for available funds and authorized practices may reduce their effectiveness at restoring habitat over large landscapes. The USFWS Grassland Easement Program, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and Private Stewardship Grants Program collectively have restored and protected ≥300,000 ha of grassland and native prairie with perpetual easements, cost-share agreements, technical assistance, and term contracts. Much of the vegetation provided by these programs should be of significant value for prairie grouse habitat. The USFWS State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program and the Landowner Incentive Program should enable the states to develop their own programs to restore and protect prairie grouse habitat on private land.