U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s Regional Director Steve Thompson has announced more than $17.9 million in grants to California that will 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 in the state, ranging from the coastal California gnatcatcher to the San Joaquin kit fox.
?With these grants, we build partnerships with landowners who work to conserve our state?s most imperiled species,? said Thompson. "These partnerships result in on-the-ground benefits we can all appreciate."
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.
In California this year, the cooperative endangered species fund provides $2.1 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $12.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program and $3.2 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help avoid potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.
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 own jurisdiction and may address multiple species. Nationwide there are more than 675 HCPs currently in effect covering nearly 600 species on approximately 42 million acres.
Under the 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 volunteer to conserve imperiled species on their lands. Three of these grants were awarded in California, in San Diego, Contra Costa and Santa Cruz 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. Six grants were made in California: the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Butte County CP/NCCP, Los Osos Habitat Conservation Plan, San Luis Obispo Northeast County Regional HCP/NCCP, Fresno County HCP/NCCP, and the Yuba and Sutter counties HCP/NCCP.
The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species. Habitat acquisition to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species. Five grants were awarded in California, in Mendocino, San Diego, Placer, and Riverside counties.
For a complete list of the 2008 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.