Commission Agenda Item No. 9
Presenter: Arlene Kalmbach
Gary Garrett

Landowner Incentive Program
May 23, 2013

I.       Executive Summary:  Commissioners will be briefed on the background, history and accomplishments of the Landowner Incentive Program (LIP).  In the past 9 years the Texas LIP program has provided over $2.8 million in state and federal cost-share assistance to over 130 individual landowners and landowner cooperatives for habitat enhancement benefiting species of concern on over 180,000 acres.  Accomplishments include restoration and enhancement of over 6,000 acres of longleaf pine forest in east Texas, grassland restoration on more than 65,000 acres of coastal prairie, improvement of over 16,000 acres of central Texas land intended to benefit black-capped vireos and golden-cheeked warblers, and enhancement of over 25,000 acres of lesser prairie chicken habitat.  TPWD developed LIP in 1997 as a way to provide technical and financial assistance to landowners interested in improving habitats for rare and declining species.  The Texas LIP program was used as a model for the national Landowner Incentive Program created in 2002 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  In 2007 the program became dedicated to implementation of the Texas Conservation Action Plan and focused its selection criteria to prioritize projects targeting species and habitats identified as high priority by the Action Plan.  In 2008 the federal LIP program was discontinued but Texas and other states continue to serve private landowners through their LIP programs using various other funding sources.

II.     Discussion:  Commissioners will be briefed on the current status of the LIP and efforts of the Wildlife and Inland Fisheries Divisions to collaborate on projects with private landowners to enhance watershed protection and restoration.  In 2010 a cross-divisional effort was begun to focus LIP funding on a watershed scale.  A few of the program accomplishments since are extensive efforts for giant river cane (Arundo donax) eradication in the Nueces Basin; grassland restoration and spring enhancement in the Alamito Creek, Terlingua Creek and Maravillas Creek basins; grassland and spring restoration and protection in the Llano and James River watersheds.

The Texas LIP program currently utilizes funding from cooperative agreements with the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and apportionments of two Inland Fisheries grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  The last of the national LIP program funding will be spent with the close of this fiscal year.  The 2011 cooperative agreement from the USFWS Partners Program was for $1 million dollars in annual allotments of $200,000, as federal funding allows.  This year’s allotment has not yet been decided but will be less.  Current funding targets specific geographic areas leaving other areas of the state without LIP funding opportunities.  Additional funding for this important work is always being sought and suggestions are welcome.