Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the opening of a new Agricultural Wildlife Conservation Center in Madison, Miss., to expand efforts to preserve wildlife and wildlife habitat on private lands. Additionally, USDA awarded $1.6 million in competitive grants to develop and evaluate technological tools for fish and wildlife habitat improvements.

“I’m very pleased to announce the opening of the Agricultural Wildlife Conservation Center,” said Johanns. “This new conservation center is dedicated to developing technology that will better enable farmers and ranchers to enhance wildlife habitat through their conservation practices.”

The AWCC is part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and will support the development of wildlife habitat technology through a competitive grants program available to many cooperative conservation partners, including fish and wildlife conservation groups, universities and state agencies.

AWCC will ensure new technology is available to farmers and ranchers nationwide through NRCS field offices.

Each year, fish and wildlife resources provide a boost of over $100 billion to the U.S. economy. Approximately 70 percent of fish and wildlife habitat is located on private lands.

Johanns also announced that USDA is awarding $1.6 million in competitive grants to develop and evaluate technological tools for fish and wildlife habitat improvements. The grants will be administered by the newly opened AWCC.

The grant recipients will advance the development, testing, implementation and transfer of innovative solutions that benefit fish and wildlife on cropland, grassland, forestland, rangeland, riparian areas, wetlands, streams, rivers, vernal pools and areas where farmland and urban land meet.

The grant recipients include:

• $148,626 to Mississippi State University

• $157,000 to the Louisiana Wildlife Management Institute

• $163,143 to the University of Tennessee

• $199,910 to Texas Tech University

• $194,564 to the Missouri Department of Conservation

For more information about conservation and the Agriculture Wildlife Conservation Center, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/.