Wildlife program offered to area residents

The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program will again be offered to Moffat County residents after a two-year hiatus.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is accepting applications in anticipation of a mid-year allocation of funds for the WHIP program in Colorado.

The WHIP program allocates funds to assist landowners in enhancing or developing wildlife habitats. The funds allotted to a landowner can cover up to 75 percent of the cost of a conservation project.

Most private property is eligible for WHIP if the land is not enrolled in another USDA program.

"The House version (of the Farm Bill) allocates $385 million through 2011, while the Senate version allocates $875 million through 2007," NRCS District Conservationist Richard Stephenson said. "I believe the bill is in the Conference Committee right now and they always find a happy medium for funding. And the indications are the president is pretty willing to go along with the increase for WHIP."

The application process is a competitive one. After the applications are submitted, the landowner is interviewed by the NRCS to review the proposed project. The proposal is then compared to other projects on either a county, regional or state level, and the funds are allocated in five-year contracts to the accepted proposals.

"The WHIP program is pretty flexible we'll look at anything that will develop or enhance wildlife habitat," Stephenson said. "But it is a competitive process. Projects are not automatically accepted."

Doug Camilletti is a local landowner that was awarded WHIP funds and recommends the program to other landowners interested in wildlife habitat projects.

"We've had pretty good success with our project, and we're still working on it," Camilletti said. "We did some pond development, planted some shrubs and trees, and increased wildlife habitat. We did quite a bit of water development."

Anyone interested in participating in the WHIP program may contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service at the USDA Service Center at 356 Ranney St., or call 824-3476.

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