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Date: August 24, 2011

Contact:
Hugh Vickery, (DOI) 202-208-6416
Vanessa Kauffman, (FWS) 703-358-2138
Susan Linner (FWS – CO)  303-236-4774
Mike George (FWS-NE) 308-382-6468 ext 12
Mark Wilson (FWS-MT) 406-449-5225

Salazar Announces $53 Million in Grants to Support Habitat Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species

Projects in Colorado, Nebraska, and Montana to Receive Grants

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced more than $53 million in grants to 17 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.

The grants, awarded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF), will benefit numerous imperiled species ranging from the Peninsular bighorn sheep to the Karner blue butterfly.

“Our solid partnerships with states are key to Interior’s continued success in preventing the extinction of hundreds of threatened and endangered species, and recovering species, such as the bald eagle, brown pelican, and American alligator,” Secretary Salazar said. “These grant awards will support important state efforts to build and strengthen conservation partnerships, and to conserve and protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered animals and plants.”

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 cost-effective conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

“Ensuring the survival of imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The vital funding provided by these grants empowers landowners and communities to safeguard habitat for threatened and endangered species and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”

This year, the CESCF will provide approximately $28.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, $10.7 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, and $14 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help advance creative partnerships for imperiled species conservation recovery.

A complete list of the 2011 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.

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service. These agreements allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact 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 that complements the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.

Among recipients of today’s HCP Land Acquisition Grants is the State of Wisconsin, which is receiving a $360,000 grant to fund the Karner Blue Butterfly Land Acquisition project in Jackson County. With this grant, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will protect 240 acres of land within the Bauer-Brockway Barrens State Natural Area and the Jackson County Forest. The addition of these lands will connect existing protected habitats to benefit this disturbance-dependent endangered butterfly and a large number of additional rare species that depend on the barrens ecosystem.

The Stimson Forestlands Conservation Project in Missoula, Montana will receive $4,000,000 to fund a conservation easement covering over 9,300 acres of forestland.  This property is concurrent with another conservation easement on 18,700 acres of adjacent lands.  This project is a continuation of several years of landscape conservation efforts on working lands in northwestern Montana benefitting bull trout, Columbia redband trout, mountain whitefish, pygmy whitefish, and westslope cutthroat trout. This effort will ensure the availability of high quality riparian and instream habitat by protecting against imminent development threats.

The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through the funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach, and similar planning activities.

For example, funds in the amount of $978,439 will support the Development of Habitat Conservation Plans for the Cumberlands Region, Tennessee, project to protect aquatic and forest resources. Several mammals, mussels, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and aquatic invertebrates will benefit from these planning efforts in this ecologically diverse region that is beginning to experience increased development and resource extraction issues.

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 funding for the Chesapeake Bay Puritan Tiger Beetle Habitat Conservation project in Maryland. The State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Eastern Shore Conservancy, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, and five private landowners requested funding to purchase permanent conservation easements on six properties. The properties total 456 acres of forestland and eroding cliffs and support three sub-populations of the federally threatened Puritan tiger beetle. One location also supports a large population of the federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle. Once acquired, the property will be protected as habitat for the recovery of these species in Maryland.

Colorado will receive $469,540 to fund the Turtle Ranch Conservation Easement in Moffat County.  This conservation easement will protect 15,156 acres of the Tuttle Ranch in northwestern Colorado, including a large white-tailed prairie dog complex, which is an essential habitat component for the federally endangered black-footed ferret. Securing this easement will serve as the catalyst to initiate black-footed ferret reintroduction on this parcel. This project will be a model of incentive-based conservation, highlighting how both endangered species management and an active and profitable agricultural operation can coexist. This easement will also protect habitat, including one known active lek for greater sage-grouse, a federal candidate species, as well as numerous species of greatest conservation need in the Colorado Wildlife Action Plan. Permanent protection of the property will significantly contribute to the conservation of a landscape-scale ecosystem with wildlife populations rivaled by few places in the United States.

The Anderson Property Land Acquisition Project in Lancaster County, Nebraska will receive $135,000 to protect unique saline and sensitive wetland habitat for the subsequent reintroduction of the highly-endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle. The habitat on this property also supports the federally listed interior least tern and piping plover. By acquiring this parcel, the state and its public and private partners, through the Saline Wetland Conservation Partnership, will be able to provide the protection, restoration, and enhancement of a habitat that is vital to the survival and recovery of rare and endangered wildlife like the Salt Creek tiger beetle

Another project, under the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, is the East Maui Watershed Conservation Easement in Hawaii. This grant will fund $391,000 for the acquisition of a permanent conservation easement on over 3,550 acres upslope of the towns of Makawao and Haiku on the Island of Maui. The property is at the center of the 100,000-acre East Maui Watershed Partnership managed by six major landowners. The property provides habitat for 13 rare or endangered birds, including the ‘akohekohe or crested honeycreeper and the Maui parrotbill, which are among the rarest birds in the U.S. It is also critical habitat for Geranium multiflorum and eight other federally listed plants, as well as a number of other rare plants and animals.

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/.

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