Erica Szlosek (916) 978-6159
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Southwest Regional Director Ren Lohoefener today announced more than $19.1 million in grants California 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 including the desert tortoise, California red-legged frog and western snowy plover.
“California will be receiving nine of these grants,” said Lohoefener. “They will provide state agencies with resources to assist landowners and communities in protecting habitat for our state’s threatened and endangered species.”
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 -- $1.78 million of this will go to three California projects: City of San Diego Vernal Pool Habitat Conservation Plan; Butte Regional Habitat/Natural Community Conservation Plan and Yolo County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan. [Details about the plans are provided at the end of the news release]. 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.
Nationwide, $36 million will be provided through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and three California grants will be funded totaling $14.4 million: Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan; Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan. [Details about the acquisition plans are provided at the end of the news release]. 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.
In addition, $14.1 million will be provided nationwide through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. California will receive $2.98 million to fund three acquisitions: Mojave River Riparian Area, Amargosa Vole – Tecopa Land Acquisition, and San Diego, Hanlon Walker. [Details about the grants are provided at the end of the news release]. 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.
The three programs were established to help avoid potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.
California Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants:
City of San Diego Vernal Pool Species Habitat Conservation Plan (San Diego County, CA) $615,000. This project would support the development of and HCP for Vernal Pools in the San Diego Region. This HCP would be developed in response to legal challenges to the MSCP. The Vernal Pool HCP would encompass a significant portion of the range and existing habitat of 8 federally listed and rare species. The types of vernal pools evaluated for this HCP are geographically restricted and exhibit high rates of endemism; therefore, protecting a large portion of their extant habitat will contribute directly to their long-term preservation.
Butte Regional Habitat/Natural Community Conservation Plan (Butte County, CA) $536,588. This project would support the development of an HCP/NCCP for Butte County to provide for the protection and conservation of the region’s biodiversity while allowing for appropriate development and growth to occur. Butte County has recently been experiencing rapid growth that could degrade and fragment Butte County’s sensitive habitats and species. The Butte Regional HCP/NCCP will permanently protect habitat, establish preserves, and establish management guidelines for the conservation and recovery of at least 41 sensitive species.
Yolo County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (Yolo County, CA) $634,988. This project would fun the continued work on the Yolo County HCP/NCCP. The HCP/NCCP will address the need for broad-based planning to provide for the protection and conservation of the region’s biodiversity while allowing for appropriate development and growth to occur. Fifteen federally listed and fifty-four other sensitive species will benefit from implementation of the HCP/NCCP. The Plan will also provide conservation benefits to crop and vernal pool pollinators.
California Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants:
City of Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan (HMP) (San Diego County, CA) $6,000,000. This project will purchase 100-200 acres of important biological core area for California natcatchers. The purchases would also benefit another 30 species, including least Bell’s vireo, California least tern, and western snowy plover. The acquisitions will produce a preserve network that benefits covered species within the Carlsbad HMP through maintaining core breeding habitat and critical regional linkages.
Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Riverside County, CA) $6,000,000. This will purchase lands that will greatly enhance the existing Coachella Valley MSHCP by securing key regional wildlife linkages, sand transport areas, and preserving core habitat areas. The land acquisition will benefit 20 species, including seven federally listed species such as Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, desert tortoise and peninsular bighorn sheep. The proposed acquisition will complement and greatly enhance the ecological value of the many other acquisitions that have previously occurred in these areas in the last few years.
East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan: Upper Marsh Creek Watershed* (Contra Costa County, CA) $2,407,200. This project would acquire up to 900 acres that provide essential habitat and connectivity for multiple species. The habitat acquisition area supports the largest concentration of ponds, seasonal wetlands, and ephemeral streams in the HCP area and is crucial habitat for wetland-dependent species such as California Red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. In addition, acquisition focus area also supports the vast majority of the chaparral habitat that remains in the area, essential habitat for Alameda whipsnake and several covered plant species.
California Recovery Land Acquisition Grants:
Mojave River Riparian Area (San Bernardino County, CA) $1,920,369. This project would acquire up to 700 acres of desert riparian habitat and 1200 acres of adjacent desert upland habitats that occur along the Mojave River. The fee-title and easement acquisitions would benefit more than 15 sensitive species including the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and least Bell’s vireo, and the federally threatened desert tortoise. The habitat acquisition area falls within a unique 15.2-mile region of the Mojave River where perennial water flows support a lush riparian plant community. The acquisitions would maintain important habitat connectivity and support native species dispersal in the only major riparian habitat corridor in the western Mojave Desert region.
Amargosa Vole - Tecopa Land Acquisition (Inyo County, CA) $64,163. This project would acquire fee-title or easements on private properties that support approximately 22 acres of some of the last remaining unprotected habitat for the federally endangered Amargosa vole and the Amargosa niterwort. The private properties within the habitat acquisition area are generally situated within the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Amargosa River Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and within designated critical habitat for the Amargosa vole. Acquiring the properties or easements would support habitat connectivity in the area by linking core habitats for Amargosa vole into a series of interconnected parcels. The acquisitions would also allow management actions necessary for the recovery and long-term protection of core habitat and populations of the endangered Amargosa vole, while also supporting the recovery of Amargosa niterwort in the region.
San Diego River, Hanlon-Walker (San Diego County, CA) $1,000,000. The proposal is to acquire approximately 122 acres of habitat in the San Diego River over two phases. The acquisition of the property will benefit recovery of the State and federally endangered least Bell’s vireo, the State and federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, and the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher by preserving important habitat for these species and protecting the site from future development. Implementation of this conservation strategy will help the recovery of threatened and endangered species by building a corridor of contiguous conserved native habitat along the 52-mile long San Diego River. The San Diego River provides the primary east-west habitat linkage in the City of Santee. Additionally, the reach of the San Diego River within the City of Santee, including the site of the Hanlon-Walker acquisition, provides a key linkage between the core habitat areas of Mission Trails Regional Park to the west and Lakeside to the north and east.
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.