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Tribes in 13 States Receive $4.2 Million From Service for Conservation Work

March 27, 2015

Taking a tour of Seminole land in an all-terrain vehicle

Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced nearly $4.2 million in Tribal Wildlife Grants to Native American Tribes in 13 states. The awards will support 22 fish and wildlife conservation projects that benefit a wide range of wildlife and habitat, including species of Native American cultural or traditional importance and species that are not hunted or fished.

“Tribal lands encompass millions of acres of important habitat for hundreds of wildlife species across the nation,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Tribal Wildlife Grants give us an opportunity for federal and state agencies to work with tribal fish and wildlife partners in the conservation of our shared and highly valued natural heritage; a heritage that we will pass on to future generations of all Americans.”

Since its inception in 2003, the competitive Tribal Wildlife Grants program has awarded more than $68 million to Native American tribes, providing support for more than 400 conservation projects. The funds have also provided technical and financial assistance for development and implementation of projects that benefit fish and wildlife and their habitats, including non-game species.

Read the full release...


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on Amended NiSource Habitat Conservation Plan
NiSource Proposes to Add Northern Long-eared Bat to Incidental Take Permit

March 20, 2015

Northern long-eared bat hanging upside down in cave

Northern long-eared bat. Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a request by NiSource to add the northern long-eared bat to its multi-species, multi-state incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act. The northern long-eared bat is proposed for listing under the Act.

Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to take federally endangered or threatened species without a permit. Take includes killing, harming or harassing a listed species. NiSource’s current incidental take permit was issued in 2013 and covers 10 endangered and threatened species.

The Endangered Species Act requires an approved habitat conservation plan before an incidental take permit is granted. Habitat conservation plans are agreements between a landowner or private company and the Service, allowing permit applicants to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the incidental death, injury or harassment of a federally endangered or threatened species; the applicant agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions.

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USFWS Issues Statement in Response to Article on Manatees at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

March 19, 2015

A manatee surfaces in clear blue water

Manatee. Photo: USFWS

Updated: March 19, 2015

The Washington post revised it's story on manatees and now reflects the stance of the Service far more accurately in protecting manatees. Thanks to the Washington Post for listening, and for taking corrective action.

The USFWS assures that the original quote was not provided by anyone within the USFWS. What the USFWS promotes to visitors that encounter manatees is to observe manatees from a distance and without initiating any contact with the animal.


Secretary Jewell, American Express Announce Major Commitment to Increase Volunteerism on America’s Public Lands

March 12, 2015

Photo of a youth volunteer in a hard hat

Volunteer. Photo: USFWS

NEW YORK, NY — As part of the Interior Department’s bold youth initiative to engage the next generation of outdoor stewards, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced a new $5-million commitment from American Express to help the Department reach its goal of one million volunteers on public lands annually. Watch this Twitter video released earlier today that highlights key elements of this new volunteer initiative.

Joined by American Express Foundation President Timothy J. McClimon, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, and YMCA of the USA President Emeritus Neil Nicoll, Jewell and the other leaders discussed how the funding will help increase engagement, connections and support of public lands in 50 cities across the country – starting in New York City.

“Magnificent landscapes and our strong volunteer ethic are part of what make America so special and unique,” Secretary Jewell said today at the kickoff event at Castle Clinton National Monument in Manhattan. “This partnership with American Express will be a huge boost as we create a movement to foster the next generation of leaders and outdoor stewards while helping people connect to the public lands in their community – particularly in urban areas.”

Read the full release...


Service Proposes to Designate Critical Habitat and Announces Re-opening of Comment Period on Proposed Listing of Black Pinesnake

March 10, 2015

Black pinesnake coiled up

Black Pinesnake. Photo: Jim Lee, TNC

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to designate critical habitat for the black pinesnake under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A proposed rule to list the black pinesnake as threatened was published in the Federal Register on October 7, 2014. At the same time, the Service also announces the availability of a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat designation.

The public is invited to submit comments on all of these actions through a 60-day comment period ending May 11, 2015.

This harmless snake is native to the longleaf pine forests, an ecosystem that is also in peril. Longleaf forests once covered over 90 million acres -- about the size of Montana -- from the South Atlantic Coastal Plain of southern Virginia to the West Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas. Today, less than four percent -- about the size of Massachusetts -- remain. The longleaf pine ecosystem is one of the most ecologically diverse in the world, with more than 900 plant species that are found nowhere else.

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Last updated: March 27, 2015