Southeast Landowners to Receive Grants for Conservation
May 7, 2001
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing 48 grants worth $5
million to projects in 28 states and Puerto Rico to help citizens conduct
endangered species conservation activities on private property.
"From bog turtles in New Jersey to prairie chickens in Texas to
waterfowl in Alaska, private citizens are making a difference for
threatened and endangered species," says Gale Norton, Secretary of the
Interior. "I look forward to building upon these relationships with private
landowners to protect imperiled species."
The grants are part of the Endangered Species Act Landowner Incentive
Program, an initiative established three years ago by Congress to provide
financial assistance and incentives to private property owners who are
willing to voluntarily conserve listed species, species that are proposed
for listing, and other rare, but unlisted, species. To date, the Service
has made more than 100 grants worth $15 million. To qualify for this
program, private landowners, Native American tribes, or other non-federal
partners contribute at least 10 percent of the cost of the project in
either cash or in-kind services such as labor or supplies.
"Much of the habitat for threatened and endangered species occurs on
private land," says Marshall Jones, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service. "That is why we need the direct involvement and support
of private landowners to assist in our conservation and recovery efforts.
These grants will help landowners who voluntarily come to the rescue of our
nation's imperiled plants and animals."
"In the Southeast Region, we received $883,000 in grant money for
projects with private landowners. This money will fund twelve projects in
the southeast that will benefit threatened, endangered, or other rare and
declining species," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director.
"We're very excited about these projects and the environmental benefits
that they will provide, but we're most excited about the level of
commitment that participating landowners have shown for this program,"
The Service's Southeast Region is comprised of 10 states - Alabama,
Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee - and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin
Islands. For the first time since the program's inception, a portion of
the Region's ESA Landowner Incentive Program funding will go to each
southeastern state and Puerto Rico to address priority conservation
projects ranging from restoration of rare plant communities, to protection
of stream corridors and stream flows, to construction of new nesting or
breeding sites for listed species.
Some of the projects funded in the Southeast Region include:
- Longleaf Pine/Red-cockaded Woodpecker Conservation Incentives - This
project, which received $300,000, involves the restoration and protection
of imperilled longleaf pine habitat in the seven coastal plain states
within the region. This project will fund a number of initiatives
including (1) the development of statewide, programmatic Safe Harbor
Agreements (SHAs) in the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana,
Mississippi, and North Carolina to benefit the red-cockaded woodpecker; (2)
implementation of restoration activities for existing SHAs in the sandhills
of North Carolina and the state of South Carolina; (3) development of two
individual landowner SHAs for red-cockaded woodpeckers in Mississippi; (4)
implementation of longleaf pine habitat management for the Louisiana pine
snake in Louisiana; and (5) construction or restoration of breeding ponds
for rare amphibians that inhabit longleaf pine forests within the
- Spring- and Seep-Dependent Species Conservation and Restoration,
Tennessee - This project received $75,000 to assist private landowners in
middle Tennessee with spring restoration, riparian buffer enhancement, and
species reintroduction activities to benefit the barrens topminnow,
Sequatchie caddisfly, and the endangered royal snail. Participating
landowners will conduct a number of activities designed to enhance habitat
and water quality for these species including installation of fencing to
exclude cattle from aquatic habitats, installation of off-stream water
sources for cattle, planting of riparian vegetation along streams, and
reintroduction of these species into suitable habitats.
- Cave Gates, Arkansas - This project received $75,000 for construction
of critical cave gates in Arkansas. Cave gates are an effective means
to protect listed species, such as gray bats, Indiana bats, and Ozark
cavefish, from destructive activities such as cave vandalism,
excessive cave exploration, and dumping. This funding will be matched
with funding from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and with
funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Wildlife
Habitat Incentives Program to gate high priority caves for these
- Buck Creek Riparian Restoration, Kentucky - This project received
$50,000 to conduct watershed restoration and protection activities in
Buck Creek. Buck Creek contains a number of federally listed
freshwater mussels and other rare aquatic species and is considered
one of Kentucky's "Outstanding Resource Waters". The money will be
used in a collaborative effort among state, federal, and local
partners to help protect this critical aquatic resource area.
- Shelta Cave Gate Replacement, Alabama - This project was funded at
$5,000 and will involve the replacement of the existing cave gate at
Shelta Cave near Huntsville, Alabama. This project will benefit the
endangered gray bat and Alabama cave shrimp as well as a host of other
cave-related species. The participating landowner is the National
Speleological Society, whose headquarters is located on the property.
The project and its benefits to cave species will be highlighted by
the landowner through the use of a variety of educational exhibits and
displays at the site.
- Pitahaya Reforestation, Puerto Rico - This project received $35,000 to
facilitate reforestation activities within the dry forest region of
Puerto Rico. Landowners will receive incentive funding to fence
cattle out of restored areas and plant native tree and herbaceous
plant species. This project will provide direct benefits to two
endangered birds that only occur in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican
nightjar and the yellow-shouldered blackbird. Landowners will work
with the Puerto Rican Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources and the Service's Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge to
implement the restoration projects.
- Rockcastle River Riparian Restoration, Kentucky - This project
received $25,000 in funding to help protect another of Kentucky's
"Outstanding Resource Waters". The Rockcastle River contains 40
species of freshwater mussels, including several that are federally
listed, which represents 39 percent of the total known species of
mussels in Kentucky. This project will utilize the efforts of local,
state, and federal partnerships to develop watershed protection
projects to maintain high water quality and limit the introduction of
sediments and other pollutants.
- Red Wolf Habitat Conservation, North Carolina - This project received
$25,000 to help two private landowners in eastern North Carolina
improve and protect habitat for the endangered red wolf. These
landowners provide critical buffer habitat to the red wolf population
on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge near Manteo, North
Carolina. The funding would be used to improve the habitat within
these buffers through prescribed burning and the establishment of
native plant communities.
- Karst Initiative, Arkansas - This project was funded for a total of
$150,000 of which $50,000 will go to the Service's Southeast Region
for projects implemented by the Arkansas Field Office to protect karst
resources. The additional funding will go to Field Offices in the
states of Missouri and Oklahoma to address karst resource needs in
those states. Karst is a general term that refers to rocky, limestone
geologic features and related caves and sinkholes. The funding will
be used to protect cave and other subterrainian features and species
focusing on the protection of groundwater resources.
The ESA Landowner Incentive Program is part of a broad effort by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide technical and financial
assistance, as well as regulatory certainty, to private landowners to
address the needs of threatened and endangered species with the need for
economic development. For example, the Service is working on 40 "Safe
Harbor" agreements with private landowners. Under these agreements,
landowners who take actions to benefit listed species can be assured that
these actions will not lead to any additional restrictions on the use of
their land in the future if listed species are attracted to their property.
In the southeast, Safe Harbor efforts have focused on protection of mature
pine habitats that can support red-cockaded woodpeckers and other listed
and rare species that inhabit those open pine communities. The Service is
also developing about 90 Candidate Conservation Agreements with private
landowners and other non-federal partners to undertake actions on private
and public lands to conserve a number of species before they are listed as
threatened or endangered. In support of these agreements, recipients may
be eligible to receive grants for fencing, planting, habitat restoration,
and other conservation activities. Implementation of many of these
agreements may result in increased levels of conservation for affected
species which may help preclude the need for the Fish and Wildlife Service
to list some or all of these species.
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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands
of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70
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/.
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286