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Southeastern State Agencies Receive Grants to Acquire Land for Endangered Species and to Develop Habitat Conservation Plans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 25, 2001

Contact:
Ann Feltner, 404/679-7275

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the distribution of over $16 million in grants to state agencies nationally. The grants are part of two new programs authorized by Congress in the fiscal year 2001 budget and are part of the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund for grants to states that is authorized under the Endangered Species Act.

The Recovery Land Acquisition (RLA) Grants Program provides funding to states for acquisitions of habitat that support approved recovery plans for federally listed species. This program will address one of the primary threats to federally listed plants and animals nationwide - - the loss of habitat. The Habitat Conservation Plan or HCP Grants program provides funding to the States to develop HCPs and implement conservation actions that complement actions called for in HCPs. Grants under this program may support planning activities such as document preparation, outreach, and survey and inventories and may also support activities such as restoration or habitat enhancement that complement actions called for in HCPs.

All of the grants submitted under these two programs were evaluated in a competitive national review process. Over $10 million in funding to states was available through the RLA Grants Program and over $6 million was available under the HCP Grants Program. States within the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were allocated $696,000 under the RLA Grants Program and $295,588 under the HCP Grants Program. The funding for these grant programs is provided as part of the Service’s continuing effort to work in partnership with the States to conserve federally listed and other declining species.

“This money will allow several ecologically important parcels of land to be protected in perpetuity for the benefit of listed species and will give a boost to our successful HCP program here in the Southeast,” said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director, “These projects are possible only because of the assistance and willingness on the part of private landowners or efforts taken by local communities.”

The Service’s Southeast Region is comprised of 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 five of the ten states, listed above.

“Our state agencies worked extremely hard and submitted some great proposals under each of these programs in a short time frame, which demonstrates how committed these agencies are to protecting their state’s resources and biodiversity,” said Hamilton.

The following projects were funded:

Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program:

  • Kentucky: The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will receive $ 236,250 that will be used to acquire property in central Kentucky which encompasses two of the top 10 most critical hibernation roosts for bats in North America, Jesse James and Coach Caves. Protection of these two caves is essential to the protection and recovery of the federally endangered gray bat and the federally endangered Indiana bat. Protection of the entire property will also benefit other species, including the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, a species of concern.
  • Arkansas: The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission will receive $300,000 that will be used to acquire several parcels of land mostly in southern Arkansas. This land is high quality habitat for the federally threatened plant species, Geocarpon minimum. By acquiring property in the Branch Saline Soil Prairie and parcels in the Warren Prairie Area, the state is supporting protection of this species in pursuit of eventual delisting. The habitat where this plant is found, the saline soil prairie, plays a crucial role in the life cycle of this plant and must be protected to achieve recovery.
  • Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TNDEC) will receive $ 159,750 that will be used to acquire a parcel of land in central Tennessee which will ensure the protection of one of the only five remaining populations of the Tennessee purple coneflower. Protecting this property will represent perpetual conservation of a significant portion of one of the largest populations of this federally endangered flower and the protection of an entire portion of a unique limestone cedar-glade ecosystem. Acquisition of this property will also benefit the federally endangered leafy prairie clover and six state listed plant species.
Habitat Conservation Plan Grant Program:

  • Georgia: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will receive $158,043 to assist planning for a multi-county effort to protect and improve aquatic habitats in the Etowah River system adjacent to the rapidly growing Atlanta metropolitan region. Numerous listed and candidate freshwater mussels and fish will benefit by the habitat conservation plan.
  • Florida: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will receive $137,545 to develop a conservation plan and locate preserve areas for Florida scrub jays in Sarasota County. The conservation plan is needed to address incremental losses to scrub-jay habitat as individual lots are developed throughout the County.
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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