Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

August 14, 2012

Contact: Vanessa Kauffman, 703-358-2138; vanessa_kauffman@fws.gov


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces More Than $33 Million in Grants to Support Land Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species

 

Endangered Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) Credit: USFWS
Endangered Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii). Credit; USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced nearly $33 million in grants to 21 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 Peninsular bighorn sheep to Kirtland’s warbler.

“Our strong partnerships with states, landowners and local communities are the key to the successful protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species, and these grants will fund important conservation work,” said Secretary Salazar. “While dozens of imperiled species will benefit from these efforts, improving the health of our land and water will also help the people, communities and economies that depend on these resources.”

Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, these competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate 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 is matched by the states and leveraged to great advantage in helping conserve and recover some of the most imperiled wildlife in the country.”

This year, the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund provides approximately $9.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $15 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $8.5 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 2012 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.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FY 2012 Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Project Descriptions Arranged by State

Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants by State:

Utah

Utah Prairie Dog HCP Land Acquisition (Garfield County, UT) $1,000,000.

This grant will enable the acquisition of up to 400 acres of habitat for the greater Bryce area Utah prairie dog metapopulation. It will complement habitat conservation efforts for the species by a partnership of three counties and several cities, as well as State and Federal agencies. Acquisition of this habitat will contribute toward the recovery of the species by protecting against imminent development threats and securing critical connectivity between some of the largest Utah prairie dog complexes range-wide.

Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants by State:

Multi-State

Interior Least Tern and Piping Plover: Inclusion in the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan (MT, ND, SD, NE, KS, CO, OK, TX, NM) $999,989.

This multi-state and multi-regional planning assistance grant will support the inclusion of the least tern and piping plover into the development of the Great Plains Wind Energy HCP and ensure the adequate conservation of these species through measures to minimize and offset impacts from wind energy development. These efforts will enhance the ongoing development of a comprehensive strategy to protect listed and candidate species, including the whooping crane and lesser prairie-chicken, while supporting responsible renewable energy development in the Great Plains. This HCP represents a ground-breaking effort involving a large partnership between 19 wind companies, nine states, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Recovery Land Acquisition Grants by State:

Nebraska

Paradise Valley Tract Acquisition for the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle (Lancaster County, NE) $270,000.

Acquisition of this parcel will protect habitat supporting most of one of the three remaining populations of the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle. Protection of this parcel will also provide connectivity between other conservation lands acquired to benefit the beetle and will enhance the consolidation of these lands. By acquiring the Paradise Valley tract, 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 the Salt Creek tiger beetle.

Rowe Sanctuary Land Acquisition*(Buffalo County, NE) $200,000.

This project will protect and enhance riverine and wet meadow habitats that serve as stopover migration habitat for the highly-endangered whooping crane, as well as potential nesting and foraging habitat for the endangered piping plover and threatened interior least tern. The protection of this parcel will reduce the threat of development in an area that has been identified as critically important for these three species. The acquisition of this land also would help address habitat fragmentation by connecting to protected parcels of the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center Rowe Sanctuary.

Utah

June Sucker Spawning and Stream Restoration in East Hobble Creek (Utah County, UT) $157,500.

Acquisition of this parcel on Hobble Creek will protect habitat for the endangered June sucker from commercial development and complement a very successful restoration project that has resulted in the creation of a second spawning run. The additional spawning run is expected to double the number of spawning June suckers and help meet delisting criteria identified in the recovery plan for this species.

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.

For example, the State of Washington, will receive $3.7 million to protect 4,160 acres in southern Asotin County, including four miles of critical bull trout habitat along the Lower Grande Ronde River and three miles of riparian habitat along Cougar Creek. This project is part of a larger, landscape-level conservation effort that will protect over 15 miles of streams and 13,000 acres of habitat that support federally listed gray wolf, bull trout, and steelhead as well as the unlisted interior redband trout, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and golden eagles.

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, a grant of $600,000 will support the State of Pennsylvania’s efforts to prepare a state-wide HCP that will apply an adaptive management strategy to minimize and mitigate the impacts of forest management activities on state lands to Indiana bats. In addition, the State of Florida will use a grant of $300,250 to initiate the planning of a county-wide HCP for scrub habitats in Highlands County to benefit the Florida scrub-jay, eastern indigo snake and other dry scrub species. Implementation of an HCP in Highlands County marks a significant step forward for scrub conservation in the heart of Florida’s central ridge, and enhances similar efforts made in neighboring counties.

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 $1.2 million to enable the State of Hawaii to acquire 3,128 acres of sensitive coastal habitat, including more than a mile of coastline on the southern coast of the island of Hawaii. These beaches are important habitat for hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals. The property is adjacent to the largest natural area reserve in the state and will provide landscape-level protection of the area’s unique ecosystems and habitats.

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/.

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. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.
 

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