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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

May 29, 2003

Contact: Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408
                Patricia Fisher 202-208-5634

 PROMISE FULFILLED -- LANDOWNERS RECEIVE MORE THAN $9.4 MILLION TO CONSERVE IMPERILED SPECIES UNDER NEW GRANT PROGRAM

Under the new Private Stewardship Grant program envisioned by President Bush when he was still Texas governor, the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced 113 grants totaling more than $9.4 million to individuals and groups to undertake conservation projects on private lands in 43 states for endangered, threatened and other at-risk species.

South Dakota landowners received grants for four conservation projects.

President Bush originally proposed the creation of the Private Stewardship Grant program during a speech in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in June 2000. The grants announced today, the first ever awarded under the program, will benefit species ranging from the whooping crane in Nebraska to the bald eagle in the state of Washington. Each grant must be matched by at least 10 percent of the total project cost either in non-federal dollars or in-kind contributions.

"Conservation, and especially the conservation of imperiled species, must be a partnership between the American people and their government," said Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. "By making these grants, we are empowering citizens to restore habitat on their land and take other steps to protect and recover endangered, threatened and at-risk species."

"Judging from the number of truly innovative grant proposals we reviewed, landowners across the U.S. are eager to work with us to conserve at-risk species," said Service Director Steve Williams. "We anticipate this public/private partnership will result in significant conservation achievements for wildlife and wildlife habitat."

The Private Stewardship Grants Program provides federal grants on a competitive basis to individuals and groups engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that benefit federally listed endangered or threatened species, candidate species or other at-risk species. Under this program, private landowners as well as groups working with private landowners are able to submit proposals directly to the Service for funding to support these efforts. President Bush has requested funding of $10 million for this program in 2004.

The following are the Stewardship Grants funded for projects in South Dakota:

Restoration of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs to the Bad River Ranches, South Dakota (Application by Turner Endangered Species Fund) - South Dakota - ($60,000) - To restore a black-tailed prairie dog ecosystem to a ranch within the historic range of the species as part of a large prairie restoration program. This project will expand a small complex of prairie dog colonies by establishing new colonies through translocation and encouraging expansion of existing colonies through intensive grazing management and prescribed burning. The hope of the applicant is to have sufficient acreage of prairie dogs to support a population of black-footed ferrets.

Tallgrass Prairie Legacy (Application by South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts) - South Dakota - ($87,500) -This project for tallgrass prairie and riparian habitat restoration for seven species is timely in that pressures to convert grassland in the area to cropland are tremendous. Much of the funding will be targeted for restoration and enhancement of tallgrass prairie through the use of native seeds that will provide food plants for five imperiled species of butterflies, including the candidate Dakota Skipper and state imperiled Powersheik Skipperling, species that are often overlooked in grassland restoration work. Perhaps most important for the long term, it will serve as a model to many traditional ranchers and farmers illustrating ways to benefit wildlife while maintaining profitable farming.

Restoration of Swift Fox to the Bad River Ranches and Environs in South Dakota (Application by Turner Endangered Species Fund) - South Dakota - ($40,000) - To re-establish a self-sustaining population of swift fox to a prairie ranch as part of a large prairie restoration program. Through pilot re-establishment efforts, the applicant has demonstrated that this project will be a success. Once a self-sustaining population is established and re-establishment techniques are optimized, the applicant intends to further conservation of the species by providing animals for re-establishment elsewhere in the northern Great Plains.

Private Lands Habitat Restoration for High Plains Species At Risk (Application by Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory) - Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska - ($76,090) - This focused project will enable landowners in the High Plains to implement habitat management projects to benefit species at risk over a large landscape, including the Black-tailed Prairie Dog and 24 declining grassland birds, such as the Mountain Plover (proposed for listing) and state imperiled Long-billed Curlew and Ferruginous Hawk. The project will restore grassland habitat on over 10,000 acres and two miles of stream by altering grazing management on ranches for a minimum of 10 years and re-seeding cropland with native seed.

For a complete list of Private Partnership Stewardship grant awards, please visit: http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/private_stewardship.html.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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