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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: Grant Programs Benefit Central Valley Species and Habitats

Region 8, July 30, 2013
Giant kangaroo rat habitat acquired using CVPCP/HRP funds.
Giant kangaroo rat habitat acquired using CVPCP/HRP funds. - Photo Credit: n/a
Restored riparian woodland habitat.
Restored riparian woodland habitat. - Photo Credit: n/a
Giant garter snake, which has benefited from habitat acquisition, restoration, and research projects.
Giant garter snake, which has benefited from habitat acquisition, restoration, and research projects. - Photo Credit: n/a
Release of captive-bred riparian brush rabbit into riparian woodland habitat.
Release of captive-bred riparian brush rabbit into riparian woodland habitat. - Photo Credit: n/a
Lange's metalmark butterfly in its native sand dunes habitat.
Lange's metalmark butterfly in its native sand dunes habitat. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Caroline Prose

Since 1996, two federally-funded grant programs have provided significant contributions towards species and habitats that were adversely impacted by the Central Valley Project (CVP): the Central Valley Project Conservation Program (CVPCP), and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) Habitat Restoration Program (HRP).

The programs’ main objectives are to protect and restore native habitats, and stabilize and improve populations of native species, with a special emphasis on federally listed species within the Central Valley of California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) manage these programs.

The CVPCP was developed during the Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation process to ensure that the existing operation of the CVP, implementation of the CVPIA, and renewal of CVP water service contracts would not jeopardize federally listed or proposed species, or adversely affect designated or proposed critical habitat. The HRP was established under Title XXXIV, Section 3406 (b) (1) “other” of the CVPIA under the “Fish and Wildlife Restoration Activities” section.

Over 200 diverse and valuable projects have been funded by the programs, which contributed towards effectively meeting the programs’ objectives. Additionally, many of these projects were funded for continuing phases such as restoration following acquisition, or sequential years of captive propagation to improve chances of success. Historically, the types of activities funded included land acquisition (fee title and conservation easement), habitat restoration, research (surveys, studies), captive propagation and reintroduction, monitoring, planning, management, and exhibit design and construction.

Because funding has been reduced over the past few years, the Service and BOR have reprioritized actions by focusing on those species and habitats which have the highest needs and were the most impacted by the CVP, and placing more importance on protection and restoration. Subsequently, the focus has shifted solely to acquisition, restoration, research, and captive propagation and reintroduction projects for high and very high CVP-impacted species. Land acquisition projects have the highest priority and receive at least 50 percent of the available funding.

With the support of numerous partners, the programs have contributed towards protection of over 148,000 acres of habitat through land acquisitions, and restoration of over 12,000 acres of habitat for special status species and their populations. Habitat types protected and restored include alkali scrub, chaparral, valley grassland, riparian woodland, serpentine soils, vernal pools, and other wetlands. The programs’ geographic boundary is based, in part, on these priority habitats.

Research projects have also benefited numerous species through actions such as genetic analyses, species surveys to find new populations, hydrologic studies, behavioral studies, assessing methods used for vernal pool creation and restoration, and many others. Additionally, captive propagation and reintroduction projects have benefited several species by, in part, helping to gain insight into historic and on-going genetic connectivity, and development of genetic management plans. Captive breeding projects have helped prevent some species from becoming extinct, including the critically endangered riparian brush rabbit and the Lange’s metalmark butterfly.

Along with the species listed above, dozens of other federally listed species have benefited from the programs’ funding including the San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, Tipton kangaroo rat, Buena Vista Lake shrew, least Bell’s vireo, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, giant garter snake, bay checkerspot butterfly, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, vernal pool plant and invertebrate species, gabbro soil plants, Bakersfield cactus, and Tiburon paintbrush, to name just a few. Additionally, more points are given to proposals during the scoring and selection process when other special status species, such as state listed species, would benefit from the proposed actions.

A Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is posted on www.grants.gov on an annual basis to solicit for proposals. Outlined in the FOA are “Priority Actions” for each category of activities. The Priority Actions are established annually and relate to high and very high CVP-impacted federally listed species, their habitats, and corresponding geographic areas; reflect the most current evaluation of species needs and habitat trends; complement other on-going conservation actions within the Central Valley; take into account historical levels of investment by the programs; and which consider future threats to specific ecosystems.

Applicants are asked to submit proposals which address these Priority Actions. The process of selecting projects to fund is very competitive, in part based on the number of proposals submitted and funding requested, and the amount of funding available. A technical team evaluates and provides qualitative and unambiguous ratings of each proposal by utilizing specific scoring criteria, and makes recommendations on which applications should be selected for funding. The technical team is comprised of state and federal agency biologists and program managers whose expertise spans the range of topics covered by the submitted applications.

For more information on the CVPCP and HRP, please visit the programs’ website at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvpcp/. The site includes background information about the programs, a spreadsheet showing priority species, the priority project area map, and a database for querying information about funded projects.

The solicitation for proposals for FY 2014 is currently posted at www.grants.gov under FOA No.R13AF20026. A link to the FOA is also available on the CVPCP/HRP website. Proposals are due by Friday, October 4, 2013.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact: Caroline Prose, Program Manager for the CVPIA Habitat Restoration Program
916-414-6575 or caroline_prose@fws.gov

Contact Info: Caroline Prose, 916-414-6575, Caroline_Prose@fws.gov