Kelly McPherson walks the Spanish moss draped trail, where hikers view a variety of wildlife throughout the year. NRCS photo.
About 20 minutes south of downtown Gainesville, Fla. lies 1,060 acres of fresh water marsh, home to bobcat, wood duck, muskrat, bald eagle, sandhill crane and other wildlife species. This public land features six and a half miles of trails, which weave through Florida’s unique wetland landscape.
But the Levy Prairie wetland basin hasn’t always been a recreation getaway.
In the late 1960s, ranchers built levees around the area, dug canals and continually kept it drained for pastures to raise cattle. Then in 2001, one of the ranchers in the area decided to return the land to its natural state with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »
This large male Eastern indigo snake is more than five feet long and sits near a gopher tortoise burrow in southern Georgia. Photo by Dirk Stevenson, the Orianne Society (Used with permission).
A recent sighting of a threatened snake in Georgia by partners of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) shows how conservation work helps wildlife.
The Orianne Society and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, two key NRCS partners, spotted an Eastern indigo snake in an area where NRCS and landowners have worked together to restore wetlands, an ecosystem where the species typically spends several months of the year.
The Eastern indigo snake is a large nonvenomous snake found in Georgia and Florida. Its historic range also included Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina, and it’s the nation’s longest native snake. The snake was listed as threatened in 1978 because of a lack of habitat and people capturing for pets or killing them. Read more »
NRCS District Conservationist Rita Thibodeau (left) points out minnows swimming in a pond that was part of Peter Talmage’s wetland restoration project. (Photo by Jonathan Tokarz, NRCS intern)
When Peter Talmage’s career as a professor of renewable energy and energy efficiency brought him from Maine to a college in Greenfield, Mass. with his wife and son, he knew that he wanted to enhance the beauty of the land that they bought in nearby Northfield and improve it as wildlife habitat.
So when his wife, Chris, heard about a USDA program that would guarantee its protection and provide help in restoring wetlands on the property, they were sold.
Through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetlands Reserve Program, Peter and Chris protected 3 ½ of 12 acres under a permanent conservation easement. They received technical and financial help reshaping wetlands that had long ago been converted to farmland. Read more »
Taylor Moore (left) and his father Murry Moore. Photo by Mark Dorsett.
Maybe it’s Murry Moore’s profession as a funeral director that inspires him to put tired land to rest, but his restoration efforts of nearly 700 acres on the banks of the Obion River in western Tennessee has ensured a peaceful home for wildlife.
In the early 1950s, Moore’s parents bought the tract, and for years afterward they cleared it for timber. Later, Murry and his brother Dean began row cropping. Year after year, the land was flooded by the Obion and eroded bit by bit, leaving a field of unproductive crops and frustrated farmers. Read more »
Ron Farris, landowner, and NRCS employee Danette Cross look over his conservation plan.
In southern Illinois, along the Mississippi River, you can see a diverse landscape of woodlands, open wild areas and farmland. But that wasn’t the case about 20 years ago, after the Great Flood of 1993 ravaged the area. That summer, all of these ecosystems resembled a moonscape with most of the vegetation removed. Read more »
Captain Mike P. McAdaragh II pictured on one of the construction sites where he volunteers to assist with the Wetland Reserve Program.
U.S. Army Capt. Mike P. McAdaragh II is looking for a job that blends indoor and outdoor work. This led him to volunteering with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that works with private landowners to improve farms and forestlands across the U.S.
McAdaragh’s volunteer work with NRCS gives him the opportunity to work side-by-side with agency biologists and engineers, providing him with valuable work experience and new skills as he transitions from his 13 years in the military to a new career. Read more »