Introducing Working Lands for Wildlife – Eastern Hellbenders

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Working Lands for Wildlife flyer

A new initiative, Working Lands for Wildlife – Eastern Hellbenders – is improving farm sustainability and water quality in Western North Carolina via a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Virginia Tech. This initiative provides landowners with the technical and financial assistance to employ practices that help sustain a productive farm while also protecting essential aquatic wildlife habitat. It’s a win-win for farmers, anglers and aquatic wildlife. NRCS helps landowners maintain the productivity of their farms and forests while conserving important natural resources. The Working Lands for Wildlife initiative is focused on enhancing aquatic habitat for the imperiled Eastern Hellbender, a giant aquatic salamander that calls the Southern Appalachian Mountains home.

Farming practices that help hellbenders can help your farm in many ways. Analyzing nutrient usage and reducing applications keeps nutrients out the water and lowers production costs. Reducing livestock access to waterways and providing off-stream watering systems prevents disease and injury while also reducing streambank erosion. Planting cover crops improves the soil tremendously and helps keep overland erosion from contributing sediment to waterways. All of these practices enhance habitat while improving farm productivity and sustainability. Through this initiative, NRCS can provide technical and financial assistance to implement the practices described above and many more including, but not limited to:

  • Streambank stabilization and stream habitat improvement
  • Fencing and stable stream crossings for livestock
  • Cover crop and no-till systems
  • Water tanks and delivery systems

If you are interested in participating in this initiative contact your local USDA service center, call 828-558-3249, or email