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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

 

May 15, 2007    

Contact: Valerie Fellows 202.208.5634
                Diane Katzenberger 303.236.4578     

SECRETARY KEMPTHORNE ANNOUNCES $68 MILLION IN GRANTS TO
SUPPORT LAND ACQUISITION AND CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR
ENDANGERED SPECIES 

State of Montana Awarded $3M Grant

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today announced more than $68 million in grants to 21 states and one territory to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered species across the nation.  The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit species ranging from butterflies to bull trout. 

"These grants present an invaluable opportunity for states and landowners to work together to protect habitat for threatened and endangered species," said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.  "Building conservation partnerships and developing cooperative conservation programs are important tools toward ensuring the survival of species and preventing species from becoming threatened." 

Authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the cooperative endangered species fund this year will provide $7.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $47 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program and $13.9 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.  These 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 incidental 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. There are more than 675 HCPs currently in effect covering nearly 600 species on approximately 42 million acres nationwide. 

Montana will receive a grant for $3,887,375 for the Native Fish HCP Blackfoot Easement Project in Lewis & Clark County.   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 National Forest and State lands and fill a critical void in maintaining the unfragmented landscape. 

Among other recipients of today's HCP Land Acquisition grants is the state of California, receiving a $7 million grant to acquire 2,000 acres of ecologically valuable habitat for federally listed species, including San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog, three vernal pool shrimp species, and numerous other ecologically sensitive species. The parcels are part of the largest contiguous annual grassland remaining in the area, and contain more alkali grassland, alkali wetland, and vernal pools than any other portion of San Joaquin County or adjacent East Contra Costa County.  The land will play a pivotal role in securing a northwest-southeast movement corridor for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, and protect habitat of regional importance for the threatened California red-legged frog.  This acquisition is also a cooperative effort between the two adjoining counties.  

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.  For example, in Nebraska, a $150,000 grant will cover HCP-related activities for an area of approximately 200 square miles, which encompasses the entire range of the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle. This project is essential to preclude extinction of the beetle, which is one of the rarest insects in the United States. At least 11 other species will be covered by the HCP. These efforts will benefit a portion of Nebraska’s saline wetlands, the unique habitat of the Salt Creek tiger beetle. Given the limited range of these wetlands in Nebraska, their isolation from other such habitats in the Midwest, and their unique environmental conditions, it is likely that additional rare and possibly endemic invertebrate species occur in this habitat and will benefit from the HCP.  

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 $1,631,132 to acquire and permanently protect habitat on 20 acres of privately owned lands in Hawaii.  The property acquisition is located at the mouth of Kilauea stream at Kahili beach and is adjacent to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.  The area contains habitat occupied by the federally protected Hawaiian goose, Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian gallinule, and Hawaiian duck and the Hawaiian hoary bat. 

For a complete list of the 2007 grant awards for these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615), please visit the Service’s Endangered Species Grants webpage: 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 547 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. 

-FWS-

 

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