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20 Critical Water-Related Conservation Projects Boosted by New Funding

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife initiative kicks off another year of vital restoration work in and around water corridors by funding 20 conservation projects throughout nine of the initiative’s 10 focal states in 2023. The NWTF is contributing $225,000 to these critical projects, which will be leveraged with partners to more than $5.3 million this year alone.

April 12, 20233 min read

“We are beyond excited to keep the momentum going after a productive first year of Waterways for Wildlife projects,” said Jared McJunkin, NWTF Director of Conservation Operations for the central region. “Our average match rate for projects in 2023 was 17.8:1, underscoring our partners’ investment in this critical work. Through our collaboration, we are on track to improve thousands of acres of wildlife habitat in America's Great Plains riparian ecosystems. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work!” 

Waterways for Wildlife addresses urgent conservation needs in riparian ecosystems, or areas situated along creeks, streams and rivers, which are magnets for wild turkeys and many other wildlife species. Bridging the gap between water quantity and the quality of available water, these essential ecosystems store water and recharge aquifers; likewise, the plants, soils and wetlands associated with them serve to filter pesticides, herbicides and sediment before they travel into downstream water supplies. In short, they are imperative for a healthy ecosystem.

However, many of these riparian habitats are in poor condition due to various causes – such as increased water demands, disrupted floodplains and changes in land use – that have altered their natural cycle and impacted the health of these essential communities. Through the Waterways for Wildlife Initiative, the NWTF is committed to reversing these trends and implementing work to improve riparian health for wild turkeys and the many other land-dwelling and aquatic species that rely on these ecosystems. 

The initiative began in 2022, and significant headway was made through 14 shovel-ready projects, impacting 7,677 acres of wildlife habitat and nearly 80 stream miles.

Over the next nine years, the NWTF seeks to raise $10 million in private funding and leverage $40 million in matching partner funds to improve 75,000 acres of wildlife habitat along 1,500 linear miles of waterways in the Great Plains landscape.

Partners for the 20 projects in 2023 include the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Ducks Unlimited, Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Pheasants/Quail Forever, Trout Unlimited, Western Native Trout Initiative, USDA Forest Service, NorthWestern Energy, Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Black Hills Fly Fishers, Friends of the Big Sioux River, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Governors Big Game License Coalition, Popo Aggie Conservation District, Fremont County Weed and Pest, Fremont County Fire Prevention and private landowners. 

As work begins, the NWTF will highlight the 20 new projects on in the coming months.

For more information about applying for funding through the NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife Initiative, contact McJunkin at To find out how you can directly support this exciting new initiative.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale. 

2023 is the NWTF's 50th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization's mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50-year celebration, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and the NWTF's people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

Filed Under:
  • America's Great Open Spaces
  • Healthy Habitats
  • Land Management
  • Waterways for Wildlife