A number of types of financial assistance are available to private landowners wishing
to restore or create wildlife habitat, control erosion and protect water quality.
Government agencies offer cost-share programs, rental payments and easement programs
for bottomland hardwoods and wetlands, longleaf pine forests and native prairie
habitat. They include:
- The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
- The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, administered the Natural Resources Conservation
- The Forest Resource Development Program, administered by the Mississippi Forestry
- The Conservation Reserve Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency.
- The Wetlands Reserve Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation
- Emergency Forest Restoration Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation
- Healthy Forests Restoration Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation
- Conservation Easements, administered by the Mississippi Land Trust and the Mississippi
River Trust, sister organizations of Wildlife Mississippi.
These programs are described in a newly established website called the Conservation Finance Center. Wildlife Mississippi, the Mississippi
Land Trust, the Mississippi River Trust and Yale University have partnered with
the Walton Family Foundation to develop this website to assist private landowners
in making conservation decisions based on sound economics.
Using the website, a landowner can make a comparative financial analysis of land
uses to visualize the economic results of undergoing certain conservation practices
such as restoring or protecting a forest, establishing vegetative cover on highly-erodible
land or donating an easement to restrict certain land uses. The heart of the website
is an online Decision Support Tool. Landowners enter property and financial information
and can visualize the economic results of placing a conservation easement on their
property through various incentive and easement programs including Wetlands Reserve
Easements and the Conservation Reserve Program.
The Decision Support Tool also allows landowners to determine the results of donating
a conservation easement to a land trust or conservation organization. The Conservation
Finance Center website offers detailed descriptions of incentive and easement programs
and how they can benefit bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands, longleaf pine
forests and native prairies in Mississippi. Wildlife Mississippi plans to expand
the Decision Support Tool to apply to upland habitats, such as native prairies and
pine forests, and to adapt the tool for use in other Lower Mississippi River states.