According to Stacy Riley, NRCS District Conservationist in Jackson County, WHIP provides cost-share and technical assistance for development and/or improvement of wildlife habitat on private lands.
Currently, there are two contracts with local producers on 440 acres in Jackson County. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) technicians and biologists evaluate and rank eligible applications for WHIP.
Brandon Baker will be responsible for evaluating and ranking all applications received in Jackson County and will provide technical support for contract implementation upon contract approval.
All privately owned rural lands are eligible for participation in WHIP. Applicants must have their farm records established and an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) certification in place with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In addition, the applicant must be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetlands conservation provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985. Applications will not be evaluated unless the required farm records are in place.
Conservation practices applied in the past include such things as removing invasive brush and non-beneficial weedy plants degrading native grasslands. Also, livestock grazing management practices such as ponds, wells and tanks, fencing and vegetative plantings that established or enhanced cover and food for wildlife. Conservation buffers were also established to improve water quality in streams and provide corridors for wildlife.
Applications will be taken on a continuous sign-up basis and high priority applications, based on specific ranking criteria, will be selected for funding from four regional evaluation pools. Local NRCS field offices will begin accepting applications immediately and previous applications will be consideration if the applicant desires. Only applications received by December 31, 2009, will be ranked and considered during this application ranking and selection period. Applications after that date will continue to be evaluated and maintained for possible future funding as workload permits. Successful applicants will be notified after April 12, 2010, for immediate contract development. All successful applicants will be required to develop, implement, and maintain a Wildlife Plan of Operations (WPO) during their individual WHIP contract period. For details about the WHIP program or to make an application, contact the local NRCS or Conservation District office at 3100 N. Main, Suite A, Altus, OK or (580) 482-4312 ext. 3.
All programs and services of the Natural Resources Conservation Service are provided in a nondiscriminatory manner.