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The Roving Sportsman… The Next Step

Creating a management plan for your property is the first step in optimizing the habitat on your land. Having put down on paper a list of your property’s inventory, a list of the end goals for the work you will do and some of your ideas as to how you can accomplish your objectives, it is now time to take the next step — reviewing and refining your thoughts with “the experts”!

The great news is that the sources of help are numerous and excellent. There are conservation groups and government agencies that can provide expertise in fine-tuning your plan. There are also tons of books, magazine articles, videos and DVD’s that will guide you in your planning and execution.

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is very active in our area, as is the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). Both of these organizations are not just focused on the species they were founded to promote, but have a multi-faceted mission, which includes habitat improvement. In this realm, they have many publications as well as personnel available to help direct you in the proper development of your plan and its execution. Keep in mind that no matter what you do to better the food sources or cover for one species will most often benefit numerous other species as well. Most conservation organizations have their own biologist on staff, and it is often possible for them to visit your property and help outline what can be accomplished and how to accomplish it.

There are numerous government agencies offering different programs that will assist a landowner in developing and executing a plan and may provide financial assistance as well. Two programs that come to mind are the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) programs. The CREP program can cover some of the initial costs of development and a possible yearly rental fee for acreage that is taken out of active production. The goal is to reduce erosion that may occur when actively farming such ground, and the program is generally offered on a 10 or 15-year contract. EQIP has been established to provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and provide opportunities to improve water, soil, plant, and animal and air resources on agricultural land.

Whether your goals are to create some immediate income through a timber harvest or improve the long-term value of your timber stand, or you want to add to the current cover available for wildlife use or you are thinking about adding to the food sources for deer, turkeys or grouse by planting soft and hard mast-producing trees and establishing food plots, there is a great deal of expert advice at your fingertips — and it is just for the asking.

For the residents of Lycoming County and surrounding areas, there is an upcoming series of meetings you need to know about. On Wednesday, February 21, 2018 the “Lycoming County Agricultural Open House” will be held from 8:00 a.m. until noon at the Lysock View Complex at 542 County Farm Road, Montoursville, PA.

If you are seeking information on programs that currently exist in Lycoming County to enhance your land or are looking for information on how both state and federally funded government programs work within the county, this will be an outstanding opportunity to get the answers you seek. Along with presentations by various representatives, you will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the presenters and the individuals who oversee the many diverse agricultural programs that are available throughout the county.

USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) agencies represented will be the FSA (Farm Service Agency), NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) and Rural Development. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Lycoming County Conservation District will be in attendance, as well as the Penn State Cooperative Extension and Penn State Master Gardeners.

Developing your own Management Plan is not a mere overnight process. But, if you begin by writing your thoughts down on paper and can then attend the open house for advice, you will be well on your way to a solid plan for your property and the wildlife that frequents it.

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