FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2001
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (DNR/WRD) announced today that Georgia will receive $400,000 in federal funds to acquire an addition to the Moody Forest Natural Area in Appling County. The announcement comes a week after the Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy of Georgia announced that they will jointly purchase and protect the 3,400-acre tract along the Altamaha River. The Moody Forest contains some of the State's best remaining longleaf pine forest.
"Just last week we were celebrating the cooperative agreement made with The Nature Conservancy to manage this natural treasure," said DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett. "Now we are celebrating the addition of land to this extremely important area. We are pleased to have a joint effort to celebrate with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service."
Georgia is one of only ten states to receive a grant from the Service's Habitat Conservation Planning Acquisition Program, which will dole out $68 million this year. The grant will assist the Georgia Department of Natural Resource to purchase an in-holding in the Moody Forest that will expand the area available for management and buffer existing lands.
"We are pleased to partner with the Georgia DNR and The Nature Conservancy to protect an important part of Georgia's natural heritage," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the Service. "Protecting the Moody Forest Natural Area will protect habitat for the rare and endangered species of the longleaf pine ecosystem."
Congress created the Habitat Conservation Planning Land Acquisition program in 1997 to help reduce the conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use. Under the program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides grants to States or Territories for land acquisition associated with approved Habitat Conservation Plans. The grant requires that the States match the federal contribution with at least 25 percent of the cost of the project.
The State of Georgia has a statewide Habitat Conservation Plan in place for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, one of the species that will directly benefit from this grant. Other rare species that will directly benefit include the threatened eastern indigo snake and the state threatened Gopher Tortoise.
Other states that will receive a portion of the $68 million in grants are California, Florida, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Georgia uses the monies collected from the sale of the wildlife vehicle tag to address conservation efforts of endangered and threatened species through actions such as land acquisition. More than 700,000 wildlife license plates have been sold in Georgia, raising over $10 million for wildlife conservation. Georgians can support this program by buying a wildlife tag for their vehicles. Contact your local county tag office to purchase a tag.
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 comprised of more than 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. 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 fish and wildlife agencies.
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Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286