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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: USFWS and Bureau of Reclamation Grant Programs Benefit Central Valley Species and Habitats

Region 8, July 11, 2014
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
Vernal pools provide habitat for numerous invertebrate and plant species.
Vernal pools provide habitat for numerous invertebrate and plant species. - Photo Credit: n/a
Large-flowered fiddleneck, a federal endangered species.
Large-flowered fiddleneck, a federal endangered species. - Photo Credit: n/a
Tipton kangaroo rat, a federal endangered species.
Tipton kangaroo rat, a federal endangered species. - Photo Credit: n/a
Alkali scrub provides habitat for Tipton kangaroo rat, San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and other listed species.
Alkali scrub provides habitat for Tipton kangaroo rat, San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and other listed species. - 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 (Reclamation) 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.

The current emphases for the programs are on land acquisition, habitat restoration, research (i.e., studies and surveys), 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. 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.

With the support of numerous partners, the programs have contributed towards protection of over 150,000 acres of habitat through land acquisitions, and restoration of over 12,000 acres of habitat for special status species and their populations throughout the Central Valley. 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. Captive breeding projects have benefited the Metcalf Canyon jewelflower and large-flowered fiddleneck, and helped prevent the critically endangered riparian brush rabbit and Lange’s metalmark butterfly from becoming extinct.

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 consider future threats to specific ecosystems.

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, Land Acquisition Priority Actions target vernal pool habitats in the San Joaquin Valley; San Joaquin Valley floor habitat and rangeland protection; and habitat for Kern primrose sphinx moth and large-flowered fiddleneck. Habitat Restoration Priority Actions target giant garter snake in the San Joaquin Valley; riverine dunes habitat at Antioch Dunes NWR; removal of waxy or low mannagrass to benefit Sacramento Orcutt grass; and East Bay hills to benefit pallid manzanita. Research Priority Actions target development of environmental DNA as a tool for detecting the presence of vernal pool species; giant garter snake surveys in the Volta area; and giant kangaroo rat research in the Ciervo-Panoche region. Captive Propagation and Reintroduction Priority Actions target Lange’s metalmark butterfly and Sacramento Orcutt grass.

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 2015 is currently posted at www.grants.gov under FOA No. R14AS00050. A link to the FOA is also available on the CVPCP/HRP website. Proposals are due by Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

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