Meagan Racey, USFWS, 413-253-8558
Lee Walker, VDGIF, 804-912-6121
Karis King, MDNR, 410-260-8001
Emily Stolarski, MassWildlife, 508-389-6393
Christina Novak, PADCNR, 717 772-9101
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced nearly $1.5 million in grants to purchase land in Maryland and Virginia and support conservation planning in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The cooperative grants, authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, will provide vital support to state wildlife agencies and conservation organizations to improve the health of the land and water that supports these species and scores of communities across the nation.
“These grants are one of many tools under the Endangered Species Act that allows us to foster innovative partnerships and solutions to drive recovery,” said Martin Miller, chief of the Northeast Region Division of Endangered Species. “For example, this funding will support Pennsylvania agencies in developing a model for conducting forest management in a way that also protects rare bats. Additionally, the conservation plan under development in Massachusetts will help us protect piping plovers while providing flexibility to beach managers working to accommodate the needs of birds and beach users.”
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will receive $675,000 to continue development of a habitat conservation plan that addresses the effects from forest management activities across 3.8 million acres of state lands to the endangered Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat, a species proposed for listing as endangered. Combined with a 2012 grant, the state has received $1.2 million for the effort. The plan would cover activities such as removing trees for regeneration, harvesting damaged trees, maintaining trails and roads, and conducting prescribed fires, and it would outline how to effectively minimize and mitigate effects to protected bats. The conservation planning complements an aggressive national effort to address white-nose syndrome, which has severely affected both species.
“One of the benefits of this plan is that it allows our agencies to limit and address impacts across the entire 3.8 million acres over a 30-year period, rather than on a project-by-project basis,” DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti said. “That allows us to be more proactive in planning for the conservation of Indiana and other bats across the system of state lands.”
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife will receive $188,694 to continue working with towns and private conservation organizations to develop an umbrella conservation plan that allows flexibility in plover management to provide relief to beach managers. The efforts of the state agency and others have resulted in a significant increase in the plover population, from around 140 pairs when it was listed in 1986 to more than 650 pairs in 2013. The habitat conservation plan would benefit plovers through implementation of conservation measures and by helping to maintain long-term landowner and public support for recovery.
“This award recognizes the success of the Massachusetts piping plover management program and will allow us more flexibility as we work with local communities to manage Massachusetts plovers in perpetuity,” said Dr. Tom French, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, assistant director for the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. “The funding will benefit the birds, beach users, municipalities and others who manage and enjoy the Commonwealth’s beaches.”
The remaining $632,481 in grants will go to state agencies to help acquire land. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, working with The Nature Conservancy and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, will receive $479,250 to acquire and protect about 300 acres across three properties with caves and streams vital to the recovery of the endangered Lee County cave isopod. The properties are in the Powell River and Cedars area of Lee County and will be eventually added to the existing Cedars State Natural Area.
“Conserving important wildlife habitat is a priority for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to protect endangered species and prevent their decline,” said Becky Gwynn, assistant director of the Bureau of Wildlife Resources. “Continued funding opportunities greatly enhance our management efforts to help maintain healthy populations of fish, wildlife and plant species throughout Virginia.”
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will receive $153,231 to support protection of one of the best bog turtle sites in the state and ensure the turtles have long-term connection to other wetland sites in the area. Research at this site has helped improve understanding of the ecology of this threatened species to information recovery efforts.
“We thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for helping us provide additional protection for this endangered species," said Jonathan McKnight, DNR Wildlife and Heritage associate director. "Maryland is the primary stronghold for bog turtles and this grant will help us to conserve the unique habitats they need to live and thrive."
The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit www.fws.gov/endangered.
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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