Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

whip_thumbIn the spring of 2005, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) designated $180,000 of Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) funds to improve improving the stream habitat and water quality along East Canyon and Kimball Creeks. Working with Lee Duncan, the NRCS employees contacted landowners along the streams to inform them of the water quality issues and the benefits available through the WHIP program. The program has a 75% cost share match, meaning the NRCS pays for 75% of the project implementation. The Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District added an additional 15% to the cost share bring the total cost share to 90%. Through the program landowners can implement a variety of practices to improve water quality and wildlife habitat including planting riparian trees and shrubs, installing fencing to exclude livestock from the stream corridor, installing watering facilities for livestock, stabilize eroding stream banks, re-seeding pasture areas to improve grazing management, planting upland tree and shrub species for wildlife habitat and installing stream crossings to minimize bank disturbance. Through their tireless efforts the NRCS signed up 20 participants along East Canyon and Kimball Creek.

Of particular interest were the “ranchettes” along Old Ranch Road in Snyderville Basin. This area is divided into 2 to 10 acre home sites with many properties allowing horses to graze along or near the creeks. Because of historic grazing practices this area is now mostly devoid of woody riparian species which normally buffer the stream from grazing and flooding impacts. Once landowners learned about the negative impacts from livestock and the importance of woody riparian species, most were more than willing to sign up for the program to improve and protect the stream corridor.

Another area of focus was East Canyon Creek between the Swaner Nature Preserve and the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course. The landowners along the stream in this area are mostly commercial businesses with little incentive to improve the stream environment. In these cases 100% cost share was provided. Several businesses took advantage of the program and the hope is that as projects are implemented more of these businesses will become involved. Of the $180,000 of WHIP funds available, $135,262 was committed to 20 landowners.

Program participants have 1 year to start project implementation and 5 years to complete their projects. Projects must be maintained for 10 years. WHIP funds are available each year to qualifying landowners. For information concerning the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program please contact the NRCS Heber field office at 435-654-3861.