FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2001
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the distribution of nearly $2 million in grants to Southeastern state wildlife agencies. The grants are part of two new programs authorized by Congress in the fiscal year 2001 budget to address the conservation needs of federally listed and other rare species.
The two grant programs are for development and implementation of Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA) and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA). SHAs and CCAAs are voluntary management agreements between the Service and private landowners that benefit species that are either listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (in the case of SHAs) or are proposed for listing or likely to be listed in the future (in the case of CCAAs). These programs are part of the Service's Cooperative Endangered Species Fund Grants to States program that is authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. The funding for these grant programs is provided as part of the Service's continuing effort to work in partnership with landowners and the States to conserve federally listed and other declining species.
"This money will fund some innovative projects designed to conserve declining species on state and private lands in the Southeast," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. Conservation of listed and declining species on private lands is critically important, since most of these species occur either wholly or in part on private lands.
The Service's Southeast Region is comprised of 10 states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A portion of the available grant funding will go to nine of the ten states.
"Most states really jumped at the chance to get some of this funding, which demonstrates how committed these wildlife agencies are to working with landowners to protect their state's resources and biodiversity," said Hamilton.
The following projects were funded:
Safe Harbor Agreement Grant Program:
Alabama - The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) will receive $30, 240 that will be used to determine the distribution of federally listed freshwater mussels in the upper Paint Rock River in north Alabama and to develop a set of management recommendations and guidelines for these mussels. These management recommendations and guidelines will provide the necessary conservation framework for future SHAs and other management agreements with private landowners in this watershed which contains at least 100 species of fish and 45 freshwater mussel species.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina - The ADCNR ($47,902), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) ($224,743), Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) ($136,642), and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) ($62,647) will collaborate on a project to address the conservation needs of the threatened flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum). This project will focus on determining the distribution of the species on state-owned and private lands in the states in order to support the development of statewide SHAs for the species. This project will also result in site-specific management plans for populations located in the states.
Arkansas - The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) will receive $146,000 to fund development of a statewide SHA for federally listed cave species. AGFC and The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas will collaborate on development of the SHA which will conserve cave habitat for species such as the threatened Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) and three endangered bats - the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), gray bat (Myotis grisescens), and Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii).
Georgia - The GDNR will also receive $120,075 to continue implementation of its existing SHA for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The money from this grant will be used to provide technical and management assistance to private landowners who participate in the SHA and restore, enhance, or maintain the mature pine forest habitat required by this species.
North Carolina - The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) will receive $150,000 to develop and implement a statewide red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) conservation strategy, including development of a statewide SHA for the species. North Carolina has an existing SHA for red-cockaded woodpeckers in six counties in the Sandhills Region of the state; the new SHA would cover the remaining portions of the state and would provide technical and management assistance to private landowners who choose to participate.
South Carolina - The SCDNR will also receive $200,000 to continue implementation of its existing SHA for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The money from this grant will be used to provide technical and management assistance to private landowners who participate in the SHA and restore, enhance, or maintain the mature pine forest habitat required by this species.
Candidate Conservation Agreement Grant Program:
Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina - The FFWCC ($57,436), GDNR ($186,942), and SCDNR ($37,668) will collaborate on a project to develop a three-state conservation strategy and statewide CCAAs for the swallow-tailed kite (Elanoides forficatus). Each state will undertake a statewide status assessment for the species, identify potential threats to the species, and develop habitat and species location maps and databases that will form the basis for development of the CCAAs. The states will then work cooperatively on a landscape scale to conserve the species.
Georgia - The GDNR will also receive $107,400 to support planning activities associated with development of a CCAA to protect rare and endemic species of fish and freshwater mussels in the Altamaha River basin. This project will involve gathering data on the distribution of these aquatic species, identifying key stakeholders and private landowners who will participate, and implementation of CCAAs to protect these species and the rivers and streams that contain them.
Kentucky - The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) will receive $141,226.50 to support implementation of an existing CCAA for the copperbelly water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta). This project will involve improving copperbelly water snake habitat by controlling invasive aquatic plant species and by creating new habitat on state-owned lands. KDFWR will also produce a pamphlet on habitat management for the species.
Louisiana - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will receive $50,000 to provide land management incentives to private landowners working to conserve the Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni), which is a candidate for federal listing. This funding will go to landowners who implement management actions, such as longleaf pine restoration and prescribed burning, that will benefit the snake in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, the area containing the largest known population of the species.
South Carolina - The SCDNR will receive $92,257 to conduct surveys for Rafinesque's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) and other bat species to determine the habitat requirements of these species, particularly as they relate to bridges and other man-made structures. The SCDNR will use this information to develop CCAAs with the owners of these structures to ensure that the species has a continuing source of suitable roosting sites throughout the state of South Carolina.
Tennessee - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) will receive $100,000 to assist with evaluation of reintroduction and management efforts for the barrens topminnow (Fundulus julisia) in middle Tennessee. Private landowners are allowing reintroductions of this rare fish into suitable habitats, and the data obtained by this work will support a CCAA that is under development for this 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 that 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.
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