RALEIGH - One pilot cooperative is being established in the western Piedmont and applications are being received by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for two other habitat projects in the Coastal Plain section of the state.
The projects—known as Focal Areas—are part of a new small game habitat program which allows the Commission to work with landowners to help birds and animals that require tall grass, weedy and brushy habitats. The program is entitled Cooperative Upland habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE). It is funded through the Commission^s Wildlife Endowment Program and administered by the Division of Wildlife Management.
Concern among North Carolina hunters about the plight of the bobwhite quail is providing the catalyst to restore habitats for wildlife that depends on weedy, brushy habitats. Other species requiring early succession habitats have also had long-term declines. Among about 25 of these are Prairie Warblers, Field Sparrows, and Meadowlarks. Population declines are linked to reductions in the quality and quantity of grassy, weedy and brushy habitats as North Carolina has evolved from a landscape composed of many small farms and frequently disturbed woodlands to one dominated by large clean farms, closed canopy woodlands and densely populated areas.
Wildlife Commission biologists have identified several areas—designated as Focal Areas—where opportunities for habitat improvements are greatest. Cooperatives, each consisting of groups of farms comprising a minimum of 5,000 acres, will be established in each Focal Area. Commission biologists will work with landowners in each of the cooperatives to establish a mosaic of early succession habitat along ditch banks, field borders, streamside areas and in open woodlands. Landowners taking part in the program will be provided grants and direct assistance from the Commission to implement management practices.
The pilot CURE cooperative being established in the western Piedmont is near the Turnersburg community in Iredell County. Two additional cooperatives will be located within the northern and southern Coastal Plain CURE focal areas. The Northern Focal Area includes all or parts of Bertie, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Sampson, Wayne and Wilson counties. The Southern Focal area will include all or parts of Columbus, Robeson, Bladen, Hoke and Scotland counties.
Applications are being accepted for the Coastal Plain CURE program by the Division of Wildlife Management, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1722 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1722, or telephone 919-733-7291 for more information.
Applications for the Coastal Plain CURE cooperatives will be evaluated and those ranking highest in landscape attributes and landowner interest will be selected. Deadline for submission is June 30, and successful applicants will be notified in August.
Grants and on-the-ground assistance will be available only to landowners accepted for the programs, but technical assistance in establishing and maintaining wildlife habitat will continue to be available statewide as resources permit.