Coastal Grants Conserve Wildlife and Habitat in Maryland, continued . . .
One grant, totaling $986,604, will be used by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Audubon Maryland-DC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect 450 acres of saltmarsh, wetlands, forests and agricultural fields on the Chicamacomico River in Dorchester County. Matched by $514,259 in non-federal funds, the grant will be used to plant trees, enhance wetlands and restore former farmlands to benefit a variety of wildlife like black rails, bald eagles, American black ducks, saltmarsh sparrows, American eels, striped bass and Delmarva fox squirrels
The properties are next to Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area and just four miles west of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Restoration work will improve water quality in neighboring the Chicamacomico River, nestled in the heart of one of the most pristine and ecological significant watersheds in the mid-Atlantic region, the 725,000-acre Nanticoke-Blackwater River watershed.
Another $1 million grant will be used by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited and a landowner to protect and restore the 930-acre Point Pleasant Farm in Talbot County at the mouth of the 68-mile Choptank River. The farm peninsula symbolizes the diverse Chesapeake Bay landscape, including forested wetlands, upland hardwood and pine forests, grasslands, ponds and pristine shorelines.
Work to improve runoff filtration along the peninsula will provide better water quality in Broad Creek and the Choptank River, Maryland’s longest river on the Eastern Shore. Many wildlife and plants will benefit, including the bald eagles, American black ducks, wood thrushes, spotted turtles, box turtles, diamondback terrapins and blue crabs.
Black duck. Photo by Gene Niemenen
Not only is the peninsula popular for local birding organizations, but a portion of the property is being converted by the landowner for a retreat for wounded veterans. Non-federal partners are matching this grant with $3,070,000. Through a conservation easement and a variety of activities, such as tree planting, the project will help enhance the Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest and most biologically diverse estuary.
Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue, generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels, funds the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program which began in 1992.
Across America, the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program will award $20.5 million in grants this year, matched by almost $21 million from state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups. When the 2012 projects are complete, about 293,000 acres of habitat will be protected, restored or enhanced as a result.
2012 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program