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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

 

 September 23, 2004

Contacts:  John Cochnar 308-382-6468, x20
 Patricia Fisher 202-208-5634 

SECRETARY NORTON ANNOUNCES OVER $70 MILLION IN GRANTS TO SUPPORT LAND ACQUISITION AND CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES 

Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced more than $70 million in grants to 28 states and one territory to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plant species.  The grants will benefit species ranging from the Delmarva fox squirrel in the East to peninsular bighorn sheep in the West. 

Nebraska will receive $160,000 for saline wetland land acquisition in Lancaster County.  These funds will help acquire and restore 31 acres of eastern saline wetland habitat, a habitat type that has experienced major losses (approximately 80 percent) in Nebraska and is considered critically imperiled.  Without the project, the property would likely be bought for development, resulting in a loss of the habitat benefits of the property to least terns, piping plovers, and the Salt Creek tiger beetle, and compromising the habitat benefits of nearby protected saline wetlands by the indirect and direct effects of urban development.  The property is the highest priority acquisition for the Salt Creek tiger beetle, a declining, narrowly distributed species awaiting listing.  The property will be managed in perpetuity for endangered species and other wildlife benefits.   

“The strength of our partnership with the states is clearly one of the keys to the Bush Administration’s success in conserving and recovering threatened and endangered species throughout this country,” Norton said. “Today’s grant awards support state efforts to build and strengthen important cost-effective conservation partnerships with local groups and private landowners to benefit wildlife.” 

Funded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the grants will enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species. 

The Cooperative Endangered Species Fund this year provides $49 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, $8.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program and $13.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.  The three programs were established to help reduce potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use. 

               "These grant programs are some of the many tools we have to help landowners conserve valuable wildlife habitats in the day-to-day management of their lands," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams said.  "They help landowners finance the creative solutions to land use and conservation issues that ultimately lead to the recovery of endangered and threatened species." 

The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species in approved recovery plans. Acquisition of habitat to secure long-term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species. 

               For more information on the 2004 grant awards for these programs (Catalog of Domestic Federal Assistance Number 15.615), see the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Grants home page at http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/section6/index.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 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource 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 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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