|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
September 25, 2001
Patty Worthing 303-236-7400, x251
Chris Tollefson 202-208-5634
Don Morgan 703-358-2061
Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x415
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AWARDS $825,000 IN GRANT MONEY
TO HELP WITH RECOVERY EFFORTS FOR SEVERAL SPECIES ALONG
THE MISSOURI RIVER
As part of $16 million in grants to 25 states to promote the conservation of threatened and endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded the State of Nebraska a $825,000 grant to purchase and restore approximately 500 acres of riverine and flood plain habitat adjacent to the Missouri River at Elk Point Bend, Nebraska, to help in the recovery of the federally endangered pallid sturgeon, interior least tern, and the federally threatened piping plover and bald eagle. By restoring sandbars, side channels, backwater edges and other shallow water habitats that will reconnect the habitat to the Missouri River, the State threatened lake sturgeon will also benefit.
"The help of the States and individual landowners in recovering these species is critical, and as with everything in this world, making money available to assist with these actions greatly benefits all parties," said Ralph Morgenweck, Director of the Services Mountain-Prairie Region. "This project will not only help the targeted species but all wildlife that live in the same habitat so we get a lot more for the money," Morgenweck added.
"These grants are very much in line with my philosophy that states should be given more resources and greater flexibility to protect habitat and conserve threatened and endangered species," said Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. "States will use these grants to strengthen and build vital and cost-effective conservation partnerships with local communities and willing private landowners - partnerships that are essential to helping species prosper and recover."
The grants will benefit threatened and endangered species in every region of the country, helping local partnerships acquire and protect crucial habitat and supporting the development of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) that allow private landowners to use and develop their land while conserving listed species.
The grants will benefit dozens of threatened and endangered species, such as marbled murrelets and bull trout in the Pacific Northwest, the aplomado falcon in the Southwest, the Karner blue butterfly in the Midwest, the Florida scrub jay in the Southeast, Atlantic salmon in the Northeast, and the Prebles meadow jumping mouse in the Rocky Mountains. In many cases, projects funded by the grants will also protect green space that is vital to many communities, while benefitting game species and other wildlife that share threatened and endangered species habitat.
Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act provides funds to States and territories, and through them, to communities and individuals, for species and habitat recovery actions on non-Federal lands. Todays grant awards are the first under the Recovery Land Acquisition and the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grant programs. Congress funded these new grants to respond to the growing interest shown by States and landowners in managing their lands in ways that benefit species and their habitats. Non-Federal project partners contributed an average of 25 percent of their projects total costs.
The Service awarded approximately $10.4 million in Recovery Land Acquisition grants, which provide funding to States to acquire lands that support approved endangered species recovery plans. Land acquisition and protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive plan to recover listed species. With land values increasing in many areas of the country, the Service and the States sometimes lack the resources to acquire or protect key habitat needed to recover a species.
Grant funding will be used to acquire and protect important prairie, coastal, mountainous desert, cave and riparian habitat, land that represents critical portions of species last remaining habitat. Some of these acquisitions support many endangered species, as well as important habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. For example, acquisition of property in Kern County, California, benefits the largest known population of the Kern primrose sphinx moth by securing protection for an area that is the only place this species has been sighted in the past 20 years. In Tennessee, acquisition of a 25-acre site will protect one of only five known populations of the endangered Tennessee coneflower.
An additional $6 million in grants for Habitat Conservation Plan planning assistance will help states support the development of HCPs. These conservation plans balance the need to conserve threatened and endangered species with landowners desire to use and develop their property. By working with the Service during the HCP process to identify ways to offset any harmful effects of use or development on listed species, landowners can continue to use their land while promoting listed species conservation.
Grants will underwrite the development of HCPs across the country in areas ranging from the North Slope of Alaska to the islands of Hawaii, from the mountains of West Virginia to the forests of the Pacific Northwest. These HCPs will benefit a wide range of plants and animals, including the Houston toad in Texas, Ute ladies-tresses in Washington state, and the Florida golden aster in Florida. Most of the HCPs will address multiple species, many of them on a city, county, or large watershed basis. Each region of the country received at least one grant in each category, if applications were received.
"These grants recognize creative and effective partnerships among states, organizations and landowners that are making a difference for endangered species on the ground. Successful implementation of the Endangered Species Act depends on these types of partnerships," said Marshall Jones, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Attached are descriptions of the grants approved for this years program. Project descriptions may also be viewed at http://endangered.fws.gov.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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