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You are here: Home News & Events News Inbox USDA Launches Strategy to Continue Conserving the Gopher Tortoise and its Critical Habitat

USDA Launches Strategy to Continue Conserving the Gopher Tortoise and its Critical Habitat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has released its new 5-year plan to conserve the Southeast’s threatened gopher tortoise by focusing on the conservation and restoration of its key habitat, the longleaf pine forests. Acting NRCS Chief Kevin Norton told Southeast AgNet the fate of the gopher tortoise is linked to habitat quality, and efforts to conserve habitat on private lands will be critical to its continued survival.

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The initiative has already conserved 274,302 acres of gopher tortoise habitat since 2017, and the new plan’s goal is to conserve an additional 975,687 acres by the end of 2024. The gopher tortoise is one of nine species to represent the USDA’s premier wildlife conservation program Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW).

  • Promoting increased use of prescribed burning
  • Improving vegetation management to include both timber stand and understory management
  • Establishing longleaf pine stands through plantings
  • Supporting prescribed grazing to manage gopher tortoise habitats in pine savannas and grasslands

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