July 9, 2013
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Boosts State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts with $32 Million in Grants
Two Projects funded in the Midwest Region
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced nearly $32 million in grants to 20 states to help advance their collaborative efforts to conserve America’s rarest species and vital habitat.
The grants, issued through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous threatened or endangered species. The Service’s Midwest Region was awarded two grants in 2013, one in Wisconsin that will benefit the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler and Karner blue butterfly, as well as a grant to support the planning of a region-wide Habitat Conservation Plan for wind development.
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, these competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat that benefits threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.
“Private landowners play a vital role in conserving our most imperiled species, but they need our help,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These grants provide a lifeline to species on the brink by fostering partnerships between federal, state and local governments, private organizations, and individuals, empowering them to develop creative solutions that drive critical conservation and recovery efforts.”
This year, the fund will allocate approximately $8 million in grants through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program; $14.2 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $9.4 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service that allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species. In return, the landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species.
The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities.
The Midwest Region was awarded a multi-state grant of $950,000 to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for Wind Energy Development. This grant will allow the natural resource agencies within the Service’s Midwest Region to continue the development of a landscape-level, multi-species HCP throughout eight states to provide conservation benefits to listed species, while accommodating wind development. The plan will provide a means for wind energy developers to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and compensate for adverse effects to covered species such as the endangered Indiana bat, gray bat, interior least tern, Kirtland’s warbler, piping plover, and several unlisted bat species. As a part of the HCP, all eight states in the Midwest Region will work in collaboration with the wind industry and The Conservation Fund to lead a strategic conservation planning process that focuses on integrating species needs with potential habitat mitigation across the landscape.
The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Habitat acquisition to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is awarded $759,000 to acquire up to 1,500 acres of land in Adams County to benefit the endangered Kirtland’s warbler, Karner blue butterfly, and associated barrens species. Land will be acquired in fee title or conservation easement and will be managed in perpetuity to provide nesting habitat for this endangered migratory song bird and other species. Completion of this acquisition contributes to a larger project to protect 9,150 contiguous acres of habitat in central Wisconsin.
Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisitions that complement the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.
For example, last year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received $497,600 to protect 3,326 acres of land within the Glacial Lake Wisconsin Recovery Unit for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. This acquisition permanently protects this area from development and creates opportunities to manage for the disturbance-dependent Karner blue, as well as the endangered Kirtland’s warbler and other associated barrens ecosystem species.
A complete list of the 2013 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html.
The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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