NRCS Habitat Programs

Serving Private Landowners

With two-thirds of the continental United States under private ownership, land management decisions made by private landowners are critical to our nation’s natural resources, including wildlife.

Don Keirstead NRCS

NRCS Resource Conservationist Don Keirstead helps New Hampshire landowners manage for diverse forests that benefit many kinds of wildlife, including woodcock.

The Farm Bill, considered approximately every five years by the U.S. Congress, represents the largest source of federal funding for private lands conservation in the country. Farm Bill programs focusing on forests and wildlife are carried out by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The NRCS works one-on-one with landowners to help them make voluntary conservation improvements to their forests. The NRCS and its partners help landowners plan, fund, and implement conservation practices that result in diverse and healthy forests, including young forest habitat needed by many kinds of wildlife.

NRCS offers landowners assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The agency also administers the Working Lands for Wildlife partnership to create and improve habitat for the golden-winged warbler, New England cottontail, Northeastern turtles, and other species.

Healthy Forests Help Wildlife

A variety of wildlife, including both game and non-game animals, benefit from healthy forests that have vigorous and diverse plant communities, including grasses, wildflowers, and young trees and shrubs. Healthy forests also help prevent erosion and protect water quality.

Families, hunting clubs, and other private forest landowners managing for timber production are ideally positioned to create young forest habitat. Landowners nationwide have learned that they can get help from NRCS to “reset the clock” and regenerate their low-value forests, setting them on track to become high-value woodlands in the future, for themselves or their heirs.

To learn more about available Farm Bill assistance, contact your local USDA service center. NRCS and its partners provide free technical assistance and can share the costs of implementing forest management practices.

Read Success Stories on the USDA Blog.

Recommended Practices

NRCS recommends a variety of management actions to landowners who want to create younger and more diverse forests and to reduce threats from invasive plants and less-desirable tree species. Please see the attachments below to find out more about these conservation practices.