Conservation Corner

By JAMES L. CUMMINS,

Wildlife Mississippi has begun an expanded effort to help private landowners in Mississippi by building on its existing landowner outreach efforts and more fully assisting them. This effort, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will enhance and expand outreach for Farm Bill conservation programs throughout Mississippi. Recently, Steven Byrd, formerly of the NRCS, joined the staff of Wildlife Mississippi as a private lands conservation specialist.

Wildlife Mississippi’s goals are simple. We want to: 1) expand participation in Farm Bill conservation programs; 2) develop an outreach and education program that combines the resources and expertise of Wildlife Mississippi and the NRCS; 3) improve outreach to historically underserved populations of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners in Mississippi; and 4) increase enrollment of marginal lands in Farm Bill conservation programs. Enrollment of marginal lands would decrease the outlay of public funds for crop insurance, disaster payments, and other taxpayer-funded payments while improving farm efficiency.

We will assist private landowners, public agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, and others to meet local, regional, and national goals for improving water quality; improving or maintaining ecological processes and functions; enhancing wildlife populations; and meeting landscape-level conservation priorities and NRCS initiatives, including the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiative, the Prairie Grasslands Initiative, and the Mississippi River Basin Initiative.    

Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit conservation organization now in its 22nd year of operation, has protected, restored, or enhanced more than 500,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the state. We specialize in private lands conservation and work to balance conservation and economic vitality while striving to improve the state’s quality of life.    

His previous experience with the NRCS, and growing up and continuing to work our small family farm in northeast Mississippi, has taught him first-hand the necessity of appropriate conservation and management. Utilizing Farm Bill practices and programs to achieve ecological, economical, and personal goals for your property and/or operation is an excellent tool available to all landowners for maximizing land potential.  If you are interested in protecting, restoring, and/or enhancing coastal habitats, longleaf pine, native prairie/grasslands, and/or bottomland hardwoods/wetlands through any conservation programs, please email him at sbyrd@wildlifemiss.org or call 662.820.9720. ________________________________________James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their website is www.wildlifemiss.org.