FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2001
On Monday, November 5, President Bush signed the Interior Appropriations Act, which provides $1.27 billion in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for fiscal year 2002. The 2002 budget includes funding for two new initiatives originally proposed in the President's budget request.
The new initiatives ? the Landowner Incentive Program and the Private Stewardship Grants -- are aimed at helping individuals and organizations manage their private lands for species at risk. The Landowner Incentive Program provides $40 million for competitively-awarded matching grants to states, territories and federally recognized tribes. Grants will be awarded to create or supplement incentive programs that provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners to protect and manage at-risk species on private lands. The program will allow states to work with private landowners to protect habitat for diverse species while engaging in traditional land management activities. An additional $10 million is allocated for Private Stewardship Grants, which will be awarded to private individuals and groups on a competitive basis to fund conservation initiatives on private lands for at-risk species.
Both new programs are funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is also providing $85 million in State Wildlife Grants. State Wildlife Grants fund the development and implementation of programs that benefit fish and wildlife ? both game and non-game species -- and their habitats. Of the $85 million, $5 million is set aside for competitive grants for Indian tribes. The remaining $80 million (minus administrative expenses) is allocated to states based on each state's land area and population, with a small percentage of the total set aside for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The 2002 budget also includes increases for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Refuge operations are budgeted at $241.9 million, an increase of $17 million over 2001. Refuge maintenance is budgeted at $77 million, an increase of $2.3 million over 2001.
The Endangered Species programs also receive a financial boost in the 2002 budget. Funding to list species under the Endangered Species Act totals $9 million, an increase of $2.6 million over 2001. The recovery program is receiving $63.3 million, a boost of $3.8 million over last year.
The budget also recognizes the importance of addressing the decline of neo-tropical migratory birds by establishing a new $3 million fund for neo-tropical bird conservation in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.
More than $22 million was allocated for land acquisition in six southeastern states, including $5 million for Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, the nation's first wildlife refuge.
The Service's budget is part of the $9.4 billion budget for the Department of the Interior, which is responsible for managing much of the nation's public lands and fish and wildlife resources.
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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