DEEP: Landowner Incentive Program

Connecticut's Landowner Incentive Program

Helping Private Landowners Protect Rare Animals, Plants, and Plant Communities

The biggest threat to plants and animals is loss or degradation of habitat. With at least 90% of Connecticut lands under private ownership, landowners play an important role in conserving the beauty and diversity of Connecticut's natural heritage for future generations.

 What is the Landowner Incentive Program (LIP)?
 What are LIP at-risk species?
 What are LIP priority habitats and imperiled natural communities?
 LIP Targeted Initiatives
 How are projects selected? 
 Applying for a LIP grant
 Previous Grants
 How are projects funded?
 On-going and completed projects

What is the Landowner Incentive Program?
The Wildlife Divisionís Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) provides technical advice and cost assistance to private landowners for habitat management that will result in the protection, restoration, reclamation, enhancement, and maintenance of habitats that support fish, wildlife, and plant species considered at-risk. This program has been made possible through grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which recognized the need to help states with the stewardship of their at-risk species. Good stewardship can slow or reverse the decline of some species.The need for habitat management on private lands for rare and declining species is overwhelming.

What are LIP at-risk species? {Eastern Box Turtle}
LIP at-risk species in Connecticut include all federally listed species, state-listed endangered, threatened and special concern species, and other species of conservation concern as determined by the Wildlife Division. Connecticut's LIP at-risk species list includes over 300 plants, over 200 invertebrates, and hundreds of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

What are LIP priority habitats and imperiled natural communities?
Because the majority of Connecticut's LIP at-risk species are dependent on early successional habitats (grasslands, shrublands, young forest), tidal wetlands, and freshwater wetlands, these broad habitat types have been designated priority habitats. LIP has also designated the management of certain imperiled natural communities as a priority. These imperiled natural communities are unique and also contain specific features that provide habitat for a host of species.

LIP At-Risk Species and Priority Habitats

 Habitats/Communities   Mammals   Birds   Reptiles/Amphibians   Fish   Invertebrates   Plants


LIP Targeted Initiatives

Early-successional habitat creation and management: Warm- or cool-season grassland establishment and/or management, heavy duty brush mowing to restore fields, invasive vegetation control, old field and shrubland restoration using a Fecon type mower or brontosaurus type mower, shrubland planting, planting of wildlife meadows, aspen regeneration, apple tree release, and creation of young forest habitat through forestry operations, along with other practices.
Tidal wetland management: Invasive vegetation control, excavation of shallow pannes and potholes, ditch plugging, open marsh water management (tidal salt marshes), and restoration of salt marsh hydrology where it benefits habitat for species at-risk.
Freshwater wetland management: Invasive vegetation control (does not include aquatic pond vegetation), excavation of shallow pannes and potholes, and installation of water level control devices to mitigate beaver flooding while retaining wetland wildlife values, along with providing benefit to species at-risk.
Riparian zone restoration/management: Warm- or cool-season grassland and meadow establishment, mowing, invasive vegetation control, establishment of native tree and shrub buffers, and fencing.
Imperiled natural community management: Invasive species control, heavy duty cutting and mowing with a variety of specialized equipment. (See DEEP's list of imperiled natural communities.)
State-listed species management: Examples include gating bat hibernacula, fencing nest sites for piping plovers and least terns, and invasive control to conserve known populations of state-listed plants.

{Meadowlark} How are projects selected?
Because funding is limited, grants are awarded through a competitive process. The Wildlife Division uses established ranking criteria to ensure that these limited funds are distributed with maximum benefit to our state's at-risk plants and wildlife. Some of the most important ranking criteria include presence of and benefit to at-risk species, presence and value of priority habitats, presence and integrity of imperiled natural communities, and total acreage of property and project.

Each application is screened for basic project eligibility and receives a score based on the biological ranking process. Applicants are notified by letter of their eligibility and approval, if applicable under the program. Final decisions regarding project viability and amount of funding under LIP are made by the LIP Project Committee, which is composed of DEEP species and habitat experts.

{Puritan tiger beetle} Larger projects focusing on priority habitats that provide major benefits to species at-risk and/or critical  imperiled habitats generally rank higher than projects involving small acreages. Larger projects generally benefit a greater diversity of wildlife, especially species at-risk, and have landscape level benefits.

Descriptions of some on-going and completed LIP projects can provide insight on what types of projects have been funded in the past. You are welcome to visit selected state lands where habitat projects similar to those funded under LIP have been completed or are underway, and are open to the public for inspection.

Applying for a LIP Grant
The most recent open application period for landowners interested in the program ended on May 15, 2011.

Previous Grants
Over 150 grant applications were initially received during the first two application periods held in 2005 and 2006. To date, LIP support has been awarded to 37 projects, 27 of which have been completed and 10 that are underway or close to initiation. 

{Freshwater wetland} Projects in priority wetland habitats have included invasive plant control and tidal marsh restoration at sites in Old Saybrook, Lyme, New Haven, and Westport. The goal of these projects is to control monocultures of non-native invasive plants so that native plants can be restored to critically important tidal wetland habitat. Tidal marshes dominated by a variety of native plants are vital to supporting many species at-risk, including saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow, seaside sparrow, green heron, northern harrier, and blue crab. Current on-going projects include controlling common reed in freshwater wetland systems, conserving state-listed plants, and enhancing diverse wetland habitats.

A variety of projects were carried out to create, restore, and manage priority early successional habitats, such as young forests, reverting fields, thickets, shrublands, meadows, and grasslands. These habitats have been declining throughout Connecticut, along with the species that depend on them. Forest openings were created or expanded by using heavy equipment on fish and game club properties in Marlborough, Newtown, and Norfolk; on Audubon property in Southbury; and on Nature Conservancy property in Haddam. Native warm-season grasses were planted and an abandoned field was re-cleared at Naromi Land Trust properties in Sherman. For a closer look at some of these projects and the at-risk species they are helping, see on-going and completed LIP projects.

How are projects funded? {American woodcock}
LIP funding can provide up to 75% of the project cost, while the landowner, conservation organization, or other nonfederal grant source provides the 25% required match. Landowners or partnering organizations can provide the match through a variety of services, such as brush mowing, herbiciding to control invasive plants, bird monitoring, educational outreach, and/or actual dollars. Under LIP, funds are used to pay state-approved contractors up to 75% of the cost of the project. LIP staff provides a high level of technical assistance for approved projects, including project design, budgeting, oversight of the contractor(s), and implementation.

For more information, contact:
Judy Wilson, Private Lands Program Coordinator
CT DEEP Eastern District Headquarters
209 Hebron Road
Marlborough, CT 06447

Content last updated on November 25, 2011.