Wildlife Habitat Enhancement and Conservation Planning Services in Wellston, Ohio

The Wellston Wildlife Area is a 1446-acre state wildlife area located 1 mile north of Hamden in Vinton County. To register land through wetland reserve easements, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) enters into purchase agreements with qualifying private landowners or indigenous tribes, including the right of the NRCS to develop and implement a Wetland Reserve Operations Plan (WRPO). This plan outlines practices to help restore, protect and improve the functions and values of wetlands. The Association for the Improvement of Wetland Reserves (WREP) is a voluntary program through which the NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners to harness resources to carry out the protection, restoration and improvement of high-priority wetlands and to improve wildlife habitat.

The topography of the Wellston Wildlife Area includes old fields and forests that gently undulate and reverse. The 973 acres of highlands surrounding the lake provide a variety of habitats for wildlife. Forty-five percent of the land is covered by forests, 25 percent by scrubland and 30 percent by open land. The lake encompasses 325 acres, 25 percent of the total area.

In the conservation pool, the lake is approximately two miles long with a maximum depth of 28 feet. Coastal cover includes rooted aquatic vegetation, protruding thickets, felled coastal trees and submerged heaps of scrub. A variety of songbirds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians also live in the area in association with the diverse mix of habitat types. The Habitat Conservation Plan program creates partnerships between public and private sectors to work with the U. S.

Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) to address listed and endangered species in an ecosystem context, generate long-term commitments to conserve those species, and provide regulatory guarantees to project sponsors. Non-federal entities must develop a conservation plan that meets specific requirements identified in the Endangered Species Act (ESA), request a bycatch permit and, once issued, implement the project as specified in their permit. USDA service centers are places where you can connect with employees from the Agricultural Services Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or the Department of Rural Development for your business needs. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the classification period to ensure you deliver your application on time. This has resulted in several predominantly forested lands being enrolled in the Forest & Wildlife Preservation (FWP) conservation easements, including Thompson-Fisher, North Swan, Kootenai Forestlands and Haskill Basin.

Sheila Huckeba
Sheila Huckeba

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