For Immediate Release
May 13, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291
Kyla Hastie
(912) 265-9336 ext. 22

GEORGIA PRIVATE LANDOWNERS AWARDED GRANTS OF $130,000
TO FUND HABITAT RESTORATION ACROSS THE STATE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing $130,000 to fund habitat restoration and educational projects on private lands in Georgia during the 1999 fiscal year. The funding is part of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, under which private landowners voluntarily enter into a cooperative agreement with the Service to restore wetlands and other fish and wildlife habitats on their land.

Under the cooperative agreement, a landowner agrees to maintain the restoration project for a minimum of 10 years. In exchange, the landowner may receive up to $10,000 in cost-share funding.

"Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a win-win program," said Service Southeast Regional Director Sam D. Hamilton. "Private landowners are the stewards of the vast majority of fish and wildlife habitat remaining in Georgia. Through Partners for Fish and Wildlife, we can help meet the needs of both the landowner and wildlife species."

Since the program began in 1987, the Service has formed partnerships with over 19,000 landowners in the United States to restore 409,174 acres of wetlands, 333,165 acres of native prairie and grassland, and 2,030 miles of riparian and in-stream aquatic habitat. These restored habitats now provide important food, cover, and water for fish and wildlife species including migratory birds (e.g., waterfowl, shore and wading birds, songbirds, and birds of prey); anadromous fish; threatened and endangered species; and other fish, wildlife, and plant species that have experienced population declines in the recent past.

In Georgia, more than $65,000 will be used for restoration of isolated wetlands, streams and riparian areas along the Altamaha, Conasauga, Chattahoochee, and Etowah rivers in FY 1999. The remaining funds will be used for upland habitat restoration, with a focus on longleaf pine restoration.

Examples of land management activities that qualify for Partners for Fish and Wildlife funding include: restoring wetlands by plugging drainage ditches; installing water control structures: dike construction and re-establishing old connections with waterways; planting and management of native trees and shrubs or native grasslands; installing fencing and off-stream livestock watering facilities; and removal of nonnative plants and animals.

The Service works closely with many conservation organizations in Georgia to help landowners restore private lands. In FY 1999 (September 1998-October 1999), the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper are working with landowners enrolled in Partners for Fish and Wildlife to help with restoration efforts.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. In Georgia, this includes Okefenokee, Piedmont and Savannah coastal refuges. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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Release #: R99-040


1999 News Releases

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