December 4, 2000
Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (404) 679-7291
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the recipients of grants through the 2000 South Florida Coastal Ecosystem Program. A total of $251,000 will be directed towards 12 projects that will focus on the control of non-native invasive species, the re-establishment of native plant species and natural surface water flows, and environmental education. The focus this year is on projects that include on-the-ground restoration work with direct benefits to fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species and migratory birds.
"The South Florida Coastal Ecosystem Program is a great avenue for the Service to provide both funding and technical assistance to our partners in the community to protect and restore the native fish and wildlife of this region," said Brad Rieck, Program Coordinator. South Florida is one of 15 priority regions in the country receiving special attention from the Service for coastal conservation.
This year's partnerships will result in a wide range of restoration efforts on a total of 1,000 acres of both public and private lands. Fish and wildlife habitat affected includes salt and freshwater marshes, forested swamp, upland hammocks, coastal dune, seagrasses and near-shore open water.
Over the past five years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 to 43 restoration projects with contributions averaging 24% of a project's total costs. To date, we have partnered $1,191,000 in program funds with almost $5,046,000 in total project costs.
Grant recipients for the 2000 South Florida Coastal Ecosystem Program include:
- City of Sanibel: 57 acres of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock restoration including the eradication of exotic vegetation, mainly the Brazilian pepper, which will improve nesting and foraging habitat for the bald eagle and the state listed gopher tortoise and indigo snake. The indigo snake has reduced in numbers to the extent that a recent sighting in 1999 was the first confirmed here in nearly six years. The effort will also help migratory neo-tropical birds such as the white-eyed vireo, scarlet tanager, painted bunting, and a variety of warblers.
- Gasparilla State Recreation Area: Habitat restoration and re-vegetation with native plants on this 7 mile-long barrier island that is home to many endangered and threatened species including the threatened Atlantic loggerhead turtle, least tern, the endangered manatee and the state listed gopher tortoise.
- The Nature Conservancy of Southwest Florida: To work with 50 private land owners to enhance the shoreline on the Naples Bay residential canal system by establishing a fringe of mangroves that will help to stabilize coastal shorelines and improve habitat for numerous species including the manatee, woodstork, and many estuarine fish including snapper and grouper.
- Eckerd College: To enhance fresh and saltwater marshes that are primary habitat for the federally listed Lower Keys marsh rabbit and silver rice rat habitat on Boca Chica, Saddlebunch and Big Pine keys. Efforts will focus on the eradication of Australian pine and Brazilian pepper so that native grasses can grow back to provide cover for the marsh rabbit and the rice rat.
- Environmental Learning Center: To restore mangroves that have been significantly damaged by hydrological problems in Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties using a unique planting system involving PVC pipes. Restoration of these mangroves will improve habitat for the manatee, numerous wading and migratory birds, and many species of fish.
- Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation: To eradicate Brazilian pepper and Australian pine on Frannie's Preserve, situated along Sanibel River in Lee County. This area is a critical resting and foraging site for neo-tropical migratory birds that move through southwest Florida during spring and fall migrations. Specific species that will benefit from this effort include the Roseate spoonbill, white ibis, snowy egret, and the gopher tortoise. Signage along a bike route through the preserve will educate the public on the habitat and the species.
- Florida Keys Environmental Restoration Trust Fund: To restore wetlands and freshwater slough hydrology on Big Pine Key by installing culverts through an existing bisecting fill roadway. Restoration effort will help in the recovery of the Key deer and marsh rabbit.
- Florida Oceanographic Society: To restore mangrove salt marsh mosquito impoundments and reconnect this habitat with the Indian River Lagoon. Numerous fish and bird species will benefit from this effort including mangrove snapper, tarpon, and the great blue heron, great egret and white ibis.
- Marine Resource Council: To eradicate invasive Brazilian pepper on private lands adjacent to the St. Sebastian River and replant with native species. Habitat improvements will help species such as opossum pipefish, big mouth sleeper and slash cheek goby, bald eagle and indigo snake.
- Habitat Specialists Inc.: To educate the public about coastal ecosystems emphasizing the impacts of invasive plants and demonstrating their removal and replanting of natives. These demonstration programs will be conducted at Spanish River Park, Ocean Reef Park, and John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area.
- St . Lucie County Commissioners: To create a coastal maritime hammock within a new county park adjacent to the Ft. Pierce Inlet State Park. Signage will educate the public about the problems associated with non-native invasive plants. Neo-tropical migratory birds will benefit from the project.
- Southwest Florida Water Management District: To restore freshwater pond and wetlands within the Alligator Creek watershed. Restoration efforts are expected to benefit wading birds such as the wood stork and provide foraging opportunities for the bald eagle.
Beginning in January, the Service will be accepting new proposals for funding consideration for 2001-2002. For more information, including proposal formal and content requirements, visit our website at http://verobeach.fws.gov
or contact Brad Rieck at 561/562-3909.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 531 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices 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 fish and wildlife agencies.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.