SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) will begin accepting applications for habitat restoration and enhancement projects in the Alton Bluffs area on September 10. Applications will be accepted at 10 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), including Adams, Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair, Union through October 31.
The LIP program is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and local SWCDs to help landowners manage for wildlife on private lands. The program is focused on implementing the Illinois Fish and Wildlife Action Plan and must show benefits to threatened and endangered species or species listed as being in ‘greatest need of conservation’ in the plan. LIP is currently restoring over 680 acres with 18 projects in the Lower Sangamon River Watershed and has provided technical assistance to improve another 1,000 acres through other private land programs. This will be the first sign-up for the program in the Alton Bluffs area.
LIP provides a number of benefits for landowners including cost share for approved management practices to restore or improve habitat quality on private land, to increase awareness of Illinois’ natural resources and the needs of rare species, and to improve hunting and recreational opportunities on their property.
LIP is a management based program and pays for 75% of the costs associated with implementing a management plan. Landowners can pay the remaining 25% of costs in cash or by working on approved practices from the management plan.
Proposed projects are evaluated by several criteria, including whether or not the site is protected with a permanent easement, the number of listed species present on the site, and whether the proposed project is consistent with the Illinois Fish and Wildlife Action Plan.
Of particular interest are areas currently designated ‘Illinois Natural Areas Inventory’ sites, Illinois Nature Preserves, Illinois Land and Water Reserves, and land adjacent to sites where rare species or habitats exist. The Landowner Incentive Program does not offer annual payments and it is not a land acquisition program. While the program is not geared towards taking land out of production, cropland that does restore habitat near high quality sites will be considered for funding. Landowners of the Alton Bluffs area should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District for more information and to submit an eligibility form for potential projects.