EDGEFIELD, S.C.— The National Wild Turkey Federation launched its new Waterways for Wildlife Initiative by awarding 14 high-priority conservation projects with funds totaling $2,807,947 with partner match.
“We are extremely proud to begin delivering on-the-ground conservation within the first year of the Waterways for Wildlife Initiative,” said Jared McJunkin, NWTF director of conservation operations for the central region. “The fast-building momentum of this initiative is a result of our strong conservation partnerships and the all-encompassing work our Waterways for Wildlife seeks to accomplish. It was really easy to bring a diverse group of partners to the table for the common good.”
NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife Initiative was announced just last year in November and requested proposals for conservation projects that will enhance wildlife habitat along rivers and streams, while improving the critical water resources these areas provide, primarily in NWTF’s Great Open Spaces Region in the Big Six of Wildlife Conservation.
With partners and NWTF staff ready to get to work and with funding secured, Waterways for Wildlife will begin work on the 14 shovel-ready projects in 2022, which will potentially enhance 7,677 acres of wildlife habitat and impact 77.9 stream miles.
“Waterways for Wildlife really showcases how our conservation work for wild turkeys has far-reaching benefits for many species and overall ecosystem health, including important water resources needed by people and wildlife” McJunkin said. “Never before have we captured stream miles as a conservation metric, and it’s exciting to see how the work we do improving wild turkey habitat also improves such an expanse of riparian habitat.”
Riparian areas are natural ecosystems located along the banks of rivers, streams, creeks or any other water network. While riparian areas make up less than 1.5% of the entire landscape in the Great Plains, more than 70% of all Plains wildlife species depend upon these areas for water, food, cover, roosting, nesting and as travel and migration corridors.
Riparian areas are a natural magnet for wild turkeys and hundreds of other species of wildlife. These areas are also important for fish and other aquatic species, as they help control erosion and filter excess nutrients and chemicals from surface runoff that can adversely affect spawning and rearing areas. Riparian areas also serve to control flooding, improve water quality, provide for community and agricultural water supply demands while also recharging underground aquifers.
The 14 inaugural projects will occur in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.
Over the next decade, the NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife seeks to raise $10 million in private funding and leverage $40 million in matching partner funds to improve 75,000 acres of wildlife habitat along 1,500 linear miles of waterways in the Great Plains landscape.
“With our incredible partners and the building momentum, we are looking forward to exceeding the ambitious goals we set for Waterways for Wildlife,” McJunkin said.
The inaugural NWTF Waterways for Wildlife Initiative projects were made possible through funding from Ovintiv and NWTF state chapters (North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas). Other partners include: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Northwestern Energy; Bureau of Land Management; National Wildlife Federation; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Park County Cooperative Weed Management Area; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Arthur M. Black Foundation; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Trout Unlimited; Montana Department of Environmental Quality; USDA Forest Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ducks Unlimited; Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Popo Agie Conservation District; Wyoming Game and Fish Department; Fremont County Weed and Pest; Fremont County Fire Prevention; Sheridan County Conservation District; Sheridan Community Land Trust; The Nature Conservancy; Wyoming Department of Agriculture; and private landowners.
For more information about applying for funding through the NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife Initiative, contact McJunkin at [email protected]. To find out how you can directly support this exciting new initiative or any of the NWTF’s landscape-scale initiatives, please email the NWTF’s Development team at [email protected].
Learn more about the NWTF’s landscape-scale initiatives and its Big 6 conservation regions.
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. Since 2012, this 10-year initiative has already eclipsed goals of conserving or enhancing more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruiting or retaining more than 1.5 million hunters and opening access to more than 500,000 acres for hunting and other recreation opportunities. This critical work will continue to impact wildlife habitat and our great outdoors in the final years of the initiative.