The Roundup -

Importance of private lands to conservation focus of ARS BrownBagger talk

 


More than two-thirds of the land area in the United States is privately owned, with 914 million acres in farms or ranches. These working lands include much of the country’s remaining open space and habitat, making them vitally important to the conservation of soil, water, and fish and wildlife resources.

But, while private lands provide society with valuable benefits and aid in conservation of natural resources, maintaining these private working lands is not easy, particularly in this part of the country, according to Michelle Downey, a “Farm Bill Biologist” with Pheasants Forever, Inc.. Eastern Montana landowners wanting to institute conservation projects on their lands face a multitude of challenges, she notes, including harsh climates, market fluctuations and lack of skilled laborers.

But help is available, Downey says, through a unique partnership between conservation-oriented groups like Pheasants Forever, government conservation programs and administering agencies, and private landowners.

Downey will be sharing information on that partnership and the importance of private lands to conservation efforts on Friday, Feb. 3, as the second speaker in the 2017 winter BrownBagger Series sponsored by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney.

Downey’s presentation, entitled “The Value of Private Lands to Society and Conservation,” will be held Friday from Noon to 1 pm at the Sidney research lab, 1500 N. Central Avenue.

In an effort to support Montana private lands, Downey says her job is to connect farmers, ranchers, and landowners with voluntary conservation programs and provide technical assistance and best management practices to aid them in meeting their land use goals while at the same time maintaining or bolstering wildlife habitat. To accomplish that goal, farm bill biologists like Downey get to know the ins and outs of federal, state, and local conservation programs in order to assist farmers and ranchers in finding the right program to meet their goals.

Downey is housed at the USDA Service Center in Scobey and works cooperatively with the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service as one of three Pheasants Forever “farm bill biologists” in Montana. Funding for her position is shared between NRCS, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Duck Unlimited, and local Pheasants Forever Chapter

Please join us Friday, Feb. 3, to learn more. Bring your lunch; we’ll provide dessert!

For questions or more information on NPARL’s 2017 Brownbagger Series, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427 or beth.redlin@ars.usda.gov.

 

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