Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

April 21, 2009

Contact:    Valerie Fellows, 703.358.2285

                    Valerie_Fellows@fws.gov

                 Sharon Rose, 303-236-4580

 

Secretary Salazar Announces $57.8 Million in Grants to Support Land Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species

 

Projects in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah to Receive Grants

                                                                                           

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced more than $57.8 million in grants to 27 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.  The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species ranging from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the Lake Erie watersnake.

 

“These grants are critically important tools to help conserve our nation’s threatened and endangered species,” said Secretary Salazar. “They provide state agencies with much needed resources to empower landowners and communities to protect habitat and foster environmental stewardship for future generations.”  

 

Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the competitive grants 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.

 

This year, the cooperative endangered species fund provides approximately $7.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $36 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $14.1 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.  The three programs were established to help avoid potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use. 

 

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service, allowing a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the death, injury or harassment of a listed species, when that 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.            

 

Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisition associated with approved HCPs.  The grants are targeted to help landowners who volunteer to conserve imperiled species on their lands. Among recipients of today's HCP Land Acquisition grants is the state of Wisconsin, which is receiving a $1.5 million grant to acquire 1,110 acres in the Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area.  The purchase of these properties will permanently protect habitat for the Karner blue butterfly, substantially benefitting the recovery efforts for the Glacial Lake Wisconsin Karner Blue Butterfly Recovery Unit.  This grant will also help connect State Natural Area lands owned by The Nature Conservancy with those owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which currently total over 5,000 acres.   

 

A $6M HCP Land Acquisition Grant will be used to acquire up to 4,771 acres in Missoula County, Montana to protect lands to benefit bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish.  Acquisition of these lands will provide linkage with adjacent protected wilderness and roadless areas benefitting the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and gray wolf that use this area as a corridor.  This project involves the participation of many partners and has been recognized as one of the largest and most important conservation efforts in the country.

 

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.  For example, the state of Oklahoma will receive a total of $1,080,990 to assist in the development of a landscape level, multi-species HCP that will cover wind energy development projects from the gulf of Texas through North Dakota.  The HCP will be designed to avoid and minimize impacts to endangered and threatened species associated with wind energy development.  The HCP will encompass the whooping crane migration route in the U.S. and their wintering grounds, along with a significant portion of current and historic habitat of the lesser prairie-chicken.  This extensive habitat conservation plan will be the first of its kind to involve alternative fuel sources and climate change issues while protecting imperiled species. 

 

Also, in Colorado, $120,000 has been awarded to assist in completing HCP planning efforts to benefit the southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo, bald eagle, and a number of other riparian species in the San Luis Valley.  The State of Colorado is engaged in assisting in this multi-county effort which has a groundswell of local support within the community.

 

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.  One of this year’s grants will provide $840,593 to acquire a 1,242-acre tract that will protect the ocelot, jaguarundi, northern aplomado falcon, and several state-protected species in Cameron County, Texas. Protection of thornscrub woodlands and wooded waterways, such as resacas, is sorely needed to prevent ocelot and jaguarundi from declining even further and is imperative to both species’ long-term recovery.  The tract contains a wooded riparian zone along a resaca that provides existing suitable habitat for a travel corridor, and is large enough to support three adult ocelots.  The White Dome Nature Preserve in Washington County, Utah, will receive a grant for $910,500.  This funding builds on past grant awards to permanently protect this 800-acre ecosystem complex.  The reserve contains approximately 20 percent of the known populations of the critically endangered dwarf bear poppy, which is only known from seven populations in Washington County.  The project also would protect habitats for Siler pincushion cactus, a rare plant endemic to the Utah/Arizona border area.  The habitat for both the dwarf bear poppy and Siler pincushion cactus in Utah is threatened with rapid urbanization.  Desert tortoise also is known from the site.

 

For a complete list of the 2009 grant awards for these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615), see the Service’s Endangered Species Grants home page at http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/section6/index.html.

 

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.

-FWS-