|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
|September 26, 2006
Contact: Valerie Fellows 202.208.5634
SECRETARY KEMPTHORNE ANNOUNCES $67 MILLION IN GRANTS TO SUPPORT LAND ACQUISITION AND CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES
Over $3 Million in Grants Awarded in Montana
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today announced more than $67 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 species ranging from orchids to bull trout that are found across the United States.
“These grants are incredibly important tools to conserve threatened and endangered species,” said Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “Our ability to successfully conserve habitat for imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation. These grants provide the means for States to work with landowners and communities to conserve habitat and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the 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.
The cooperative endangered species fund this year provides $7.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $46 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program and $13.9 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.
Under the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to States or Territories for land acquisition associated with approved HCPs. The grants are targeted to help landowners who want to undertake proactive conservation work on their lands to conserve imperiled species. 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 own jurisdiction and may address multiple species. There are more than 650 HCPs currently in effect covering 600 separate species on approximately 41 million acres.
Montana is receiving a $2,699,000 grant for the Blackfoot Easement Project. The Blackfoot watershed provides crucial connectivity for many imperiled wildlife species including native bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish. Intrinsic to this system as well are the imperiled grizzly bear, gray wolf, Canada lynx, trumpeter swan, bald eagle, and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. The lands proposed for conservation easement acquisition are adjacent to the National Forest and State lands and fill a critical void in maintaining the unfragmented landscape.The HCP Planning Assistance 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. In Montana, a $574,334 grant will enable the Montana Department of Natural Resources to complete an HCP that covers half a million acres of state lands across 25 counties in northwestern Montana. This HCP will ultimately protect five federally listed species and two state sensitive species: Canada lynx, grizzly bears, bull trout, bald eagles, gray wolves, westslope cutthroat trout and Columbia River redband trout. This project will set a statewide precedent for balancing forest practices and public land management with species conservation. The overall conservation strategy will emphasize forest management practices that maintain healthy ecosystems, promote biodiversity, and protect important ecological features across all HCP-covered lands.
For a complete list of the 2006 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 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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 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 and Native American tribal 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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