USDA to help farmers, ranchers expand habitat for migrating birds

Dr. Bill Puckett and Commissioner Sparks
Dr. Bill Puckett and Commissioner Sparks

MONTGOMERY, AL – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that they will attempt to and enhance habitat for birds making their annual migration south towards the Gulf of Mexico by working with farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to develop land. The NRCS hopes that by managing the land that the migrating birds will be provided additional food  and habitat.

"This will be beneficial not only to migratory birds, but also Alabama agricultural producers, landowners, our environment, the ecosystem and our economy," said Agriculture & Industries Commissioner, Ron Sparks.

The initiative will encompass Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas improving habitat for up to 100,000 to 150,000 acres of land throughout.

Alabama will receive approximately $3 million dollars for their part in the initiative.


Katanga, Barb our, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Lowndes, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Washington, and Wilcox. 

Priority counties for enrolling catfish ponds for conversion to migratory bird habitat under WRP are:  Dallas, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, and Sumter.

The NRCS hopes that by preparing land throughout the south that millions of birds will come to rest in these lands rather than in the Gulf, where they would typically go.

"More than 50 million migratory birds traveling south in coming months will instinctively head toward the marshes and coastlands of the northern Gulf of Mexico," said State Conservationist Dr. William E. Puckett.  "With some marshes and shorelines already degraded and the potential for larger-scale oil impacts in the coming months, it is essential that we provide inland and coastal food, water, and cover for migratory birds before they reach the oil-impacted areas."

You can sign up to help the state complete this project. Signup for the project will be from June 28 through August 2. If interested, contact your local USDA Service Center, or go to, for more information.