Panhandle Landowner Incentive ProgramWorking Together for Conservation of Rare Species and Wildlife Communities on Private Lands in Texas
What is the Goal of the Landowner Incentive Program?
The goal of the Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) is to provide financial incentives and technical assistance to private landowners interested in conserving rare species and unique wildlife communities on their property. This program helps ensure long-term sustainability of healthy populations of native wildlife within regional ecosystems.
Why Participate in the Landowner Incentive Program?
Many species of plants and animals, specific habitat types, and native wildlife communities in the High Plains & Northern Rolling Plains are in serious jeopardy. Much of the natural heritage passed down to us as Texans is rapidely disappearing. Human population increases, land-use changes, and increasing urban expansion are impacting these resources as never before. Because most (98%) of Texas is privately-owned, this trend can only be reversed by a proactive partnership between private landowners, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and other conserned partners.
What is the Purpose and Need?
The first government program of its kind in the nation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) LIP was conceived in 1997 with strong support from private landowners, the Governor's Office, and the Texas State Legislature. Our program takes a proactive and adaptive management approach to wildlife and habitat conservation. Although LIP primarily address nongame species, which have been vastly under-represented in previous conservation efforts, several game species currently at risk are also part of this program, including the Lesser Prairie-Chicken, Scaled Quail, and most recently pronghorn.
Although locally abundant, many of these species have experienced significant regional population declines that can only be arrested or reversed if prompt and appropriate actions are taken to management and enhance existing habitat. The approach that LIP differs from many existing federal conservation programs in that it is voluntary, nonregulatory, and focuses proactively on rare, endemic, and peripheral species, as well as species at risk for listing as threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Act (ESA).
Importantly, management plans provided by LIP, therefore, provide the framework to develop and implement habitat and ecosystem-level conservation actions that help prevent the need for future listings under ESA. It is hoped that the partnership between privat landowners and TPW will help insure that Texans pass on our great conservation legacy and ethic to future generations.
What are the Types of Incentives?
- Cost-share options
- Partnering options and information on other conservation programs
- Advice and Consultation (Technical Guidance)
- Written conservation and critical habitat management plans
- Field days and seminars
What Does the LIP Process Hope to Achieve?
In cooperation with private landowners, the LIP emphasizes effective and efficient resource management designed to identify and achieve optimal conservation of at risk species and their associated habitats. This is a four-steps process
- Identify and prioritize species/habitats in need of conservation or enhancement
- Describe optimal habitat conditions using knowledge of species ecology
- Develop realistic and adaptive management objectives that can be implemented by landowners to achieve desired goals
- Recommend additional conservation programs that complement management objectives.
Throughout the planning process and during implementation, the LIP emphasizes partnerships and actions over small as well as large geographic scales. Information and recommendations contained within each plan are based on sound science and consensus among interested groups and knowledgeable individuals. LIP is one of several recent efforts to address voluntary conservation of natural resources and ecosystems in Texas. Additionally, it is intended to complement other state and federal planning programs (e.g., Playa Lake Joint Venture [PLJV], USFWS Partners Program, Partners in Flight [PIF], Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory [RMBO]) by providing a comprehensive strategy for conservation of species and habitats, which are often only incidentally addressed in these other plans.
What are Some of the Projects Eligible for Funding?
Creative projects that benefit rare plant and animal species, and their unique habitats are strongly encouraged. Examples are:
- Offsetting the cost of management activities such as habitat improvements (i.e., restoring native vegetation, prescribed burns, selective brush management, grazing management systems)
- Habitat protection (i.e., constructing exclosure fences, cross fencing, gating caves).
- Funds can also be awarded to help legal fees necessary to develop a conservation easement.
- Other actions not listed here that will accomplish the goal of conservation of rare species and habitats at reasonable cost are encouraged and considered.
Who Can Receive Assistance?
- Individual landowners and managers
- Rural subdivisions and homeowner associations
- City environmental managers
- Local and regional wildlife management associations and local cooperatives
The Panhandle LIP coordinator is:
Texas Tech Department of Range, Wildlife & Fisheries
Box 42125 Lubbock Tx, 79409-212