The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) announced today the signing of a National MOU with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The MOU solidifies at the national level MDF and NRCS’s working relationship which has been occurring at the state level. MDF is an active partner in the Farm Bill program and the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI).
Mule Deer populations are stable or declining throughout their range. Loss and fragmentation of habitat are a major reason for the declines in mule deer numbers. With a substantial portion of mule deer winter range occurring on private land throughout the west, the partnership with NRCS and private landowners will allow MDF to improve and restore critical mule deer habitat. Mule deer numbers have responded positively to the current Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) administered by the NRCS. Millions of acres have been enrolled in CRP providing habitat for mule deer and other wildlife.
NRCS Chief Dave White says “It is exciting to formalize the already productive relationship between NRCS and the Mule Deer Foundation. The Mule Deer Foundation has been a tremendous partner in supporting NRCS efforts such as the Sage-Grouse Initiative. I look forward to pursuing additional opportunities with the Mule Deer Foundation and, ultimately, celebrating our collective successes in wildlife habitat conservation.”
Mule deer and sage grouse occupy the same habitat in many areas, especially on winter ranges. Habitat improvement, managed grazing systems and conservation of critical wintering areas will benefit both species. Miles Moretti, MDF President/CEO says “The signing of the NRCS MOU will allow MDF to improve and restore mule deer habitat at an unprecedented level. MDF is growing rapidly and expanding our ability to improve mule deer habitat with NRCS and private landowners will complement our existing habitat restoration program. Moretti continues “Keeping Sage Grouse off the Endangered Species list is a high priority for MDF. If sage grouse become listed as an Endangered Species, it will be difficult for state and federal agencies, private landowners and MDF to conduct habitat improvement projects for mule deer where their habitat overlaps.
MDF has improved or restored over a million acres of mule deer habitat in the last 25 years. MDF’s goal is to improve two million acres in the next five years.
Logo courtesy Mule Deer Foundation