Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Provides $5.6 Million in Grants to 12 States for Conservation Projects
South Carolina Receives Funding in partnerships with North Carolina, Georgia and Florida

July 17, 2014

Contacts:

Gavin Shire
703-358-2649
gavin_shire@fws.gov



Imperiled species will benefit from a total of $5.6 million in grants for 16 projects in 12 states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s competitive State Wildlife Grants program.  The grants, which focus on large-scale conservation projects yielding measurable results, will be matched by more than $2.9 million in non-federal funds from states and their partners for projects that work to conserve and recover wildlife identified by states as Species of Greatest Conservation Need and their habitats.  The 12 states receiving grants are: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Carolina and Washington.

“State Wildlife Grants help keep sensitive species from declining further,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s Assistant Director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. “In Arizona, for example, the program has helped protect the black-tailed prairie dog by funding the development and testing of a treatment for sylvatic plague, a major source of mortality for the species.  These prairie dogs serve as prey for other rare species of birds and mammals, so protecting them helps the Service and states successfully maintain the integrity of western grassland ecosystems.” 

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Title: Carolinas Regional Bat Acoustic Surveys

State(s): North Carolina, South Carolina

Federal Funds: $265,480; Non-Federal Match: $116,596;  Total: $ 382,076

Goals and Objectives: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will cooperate with USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro to collect crucial data on bat distribution and relative abundance.  Using standardized acoustic surveys across the two States, partners will contribute baseline data that will inform continental trend analyses and help determine targeted bat species population status.  This is a priority for the partners due to whitenose syndrome, a fungal disease that has been shown to decimate bat populations across much of the eastern United States.  A variety of imperiled bat species will benefit from modeling analyses allowing partners to establish regional population objectives for focused conservation actions. The team will utilize state-of-the-art acoustic detection technology to identify and map priority lands for conservation, following a standardized monitoring approach recommended by the North American Bat Conservation Partnership.  These efforts will also help evaluate bat population impacts of wind energy development in the southeastern U.S., including three Federally-listed Endangered bat species (Virginia big-eared bat, gray bat, and Indiana bat).

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Title: Developing a DNA-Based Monitoring Tool for Blackbanded Sunfish

State(s): South Carolina, Georgia

Federal Funds requested: $465,418; Non-Federal Match: $207,906; Total: $ 673,324

Goals and Objectives: This project targets a species known to inhabit coastal plains habitats from New Jersey to Florida. The fish is believed to have declined in distribution and abundance primarily due to habitat loss and degradation.  Within the project focal region, the rare Blackbanded Sunfish is currently documented in only three locations in south-central Georgia, while efforts to detect the diminutive fish in a previously-identified population center in Florida have failed for two decades.  As a result, Georgia classifies the species as endangered.  Due to the severe logistical challenges of traditional survey methods such as netting and electrofishing, the partners propose to utilize groundbreaking “environmental” DNA technology to verify the presence of the species in many locations across the two states.  Data collected during the project will allow partners to determine if additional targeted conservation is necessary to protect this species.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Title: Relative Abundance and Trophic Ecology of Scalloped and Carolina Hammerhead Shark

State(s): South Carolina, Georgia, Florida

Federal Funds: $394,948; Non-Federal Match: $266,526;  Total: $661,474

Goals and Objectives: Although the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is identified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in South Carolina’s and Florida’s Wildlife Action Plans, the Carolina hammerhead (Sphyrna gilberti) is not listed in either plan as it is a newly described species.  Preliminary data suggest that Carolina hammerheads exist in low abundance and their range may be restricted to the western Atlantic.  Given the threats already identified for scalloped hammerheads, it is critical that data on both species are acquired for management purposes.  This project will investigate the species composition and ecology of these two hammerhead species within known and suspected nursery areas off of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  Establishing baseline genetic data, investigating habitat use, abundance, and reproductive ecology of each species, and investigating diet and feeding ecology will inform and enable future management actions to protect and conserve these shark species.

The grant funds will benefit a variety of species and habitats. In five northeastern states, partners will implement a regional, landscape-scale strategy to conserve the imperiled wood turtle. In Nebraska and Wyoming, partnering wildlife agencies will help determine the conservation status of a variety of imperiled bat species through data collection, while also improving and protecting more than 1,100 acres of habitat to benefit these species.  In Washington and Oregon, partnering state fish and wildlife agencies are using funding to pursue a landscape-scale conservation initiative in the Willamette Valley and Puget Trough regions to benefit federally threatened and endangered species, as well as a host of other state-identified Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

For more information about each of the grant projects, visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG_Funding.htm

State Wildlife Grant-funded projects implement strategies and actions to conserve species identified in approved state wildlife action plans. Funding for the grants comes from Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations.

All 50 states and six territorial wildlife agencies have approved state wildlife action plans that collectively provide a nationwide blueprint for actions to conserve Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The plans were created through a collaborative effort among state and federal agencies, biologists, conservationists, landowners, sportsmen and -women and the general public.

The Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) is a 75-year partnership to benefit fish and wildlife and provide Americans with access to the outdoors through a self-imposed investment paid by manufacturers and users of gear bought by anglers, boaters, hunters and shooters and managed by federal and state fish and wildlife agencies. Fishing and hunting licenses and motorboat fuel taxes also support fish and wildlife. Since its inception, WSFR has provided more than $16 billion for fish and wildlife, supplied jobs for thousands of Americans, and benefitted local economies through boating, fishing, hunting and shooting activities.


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.

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