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Southeastern State Agencies Receive Grants to Acquire Land for Endangered Species

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2002

Contact:
Jim Rothschild, 404/679-7291


The Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the distribution of almost $5 million in grants to southeastern state agencies under the Recovery Land Acquisition (RLA) Grants Program. This program is part of the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund for grants to states that is authorized under the Endangered Species Act.

The RLA Grants Program provides funding to states for acquisitions of habitat that support approved recovery plans for federally listed species. This program addresses one of the primary threats to federally listed plants and animals nationwide - the loss of habitat - by protecting habitat important to the recovery of federally listed species.

The proposals submitted under the RLA Grants Program were evaluated in a competitive regional review process. Nationally, over $17 million in funding to states was available through the program. This funding is one of several ways the Service works in partnership with States to conserve federally listed and other declining species.

"Last year under the RLA Program, we were pleased to award funding to three of the states in the Southeast Region to aid in the recovery of endangered bats and several federally listed plants," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. "This year with available funding, we can provide funding to help four of the southeastern states acquire and protect habitat essential to the recovery of over 15 federally listed species."

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 funding will go to protect habitat in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee.

"The Southeastern agencies, with the assistance and willingness of private landowners or efforts taken by local communities, have submitted some great ideas under the RLA program this year. The program continues to grow mainly due to the states' abilities to find workable solutions and partners. This helps them capitalize on opportunities to acquire habitat and to recover listed species," said Hamilton.

The following projects were selected for funding:

  • North Carolina: The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will receive funding to help acquire land along the Little Tennessee River in western North Carolina. The Little Tennessee River contains some of the best populations of spotfin chubs (a fish) and Appalachian elktoes (a mussel), both federally protected species. Acquiring this land will provide riparian protection for the river and its biologically diverse aquatic communities.

  • Georgia: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will receive funding to help buy 5,480 acres of land contiguous to their already protected Chickasawhatchee Wildlife Management Area. Located near Albany, Georgia, Chickasawhatchee Swamp is one of the largest remaining, relatively intact, freshwater swamps in the southeastern United States. The Nature Conservancy originally stepped in to protect this property, but with ownership transferred to the state, this property will be managed for the recovery of severally federally listed species like the wood stork and the gulf moccasinshell (a mussel). It is a critical site for migratory birds, freshwater fish and mussels, numerous plants, animals and plant communities, many of which are federally or state threatened or endangered species.

  • Florida: The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will receive funding to acquire the first protected site in the historic range of the Lakela's mint, an endangered plant. St. Lucie County and FDACS are the major partners in efforts to protect and aid in the recovery of one of the largest sites of this endemic plant. Its protection will also benefit the Florida scrub jay, and numerous state listed species. The site is located in St. Lucie County, Florida.

  • Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will receive funding to aid in the recovery of the Pyne's ground plum, an endangered plant, in Rutherford County, Tennessee near Murfreesboro. Protecting one-third of the species' total habitat and having a healthy population that contains 250 to 300 plants will be a great step forward for recovery of this plant. Acquiring the site proposed under this project will protect not only the second of only three known wild populations of the Pyne's ground plum but also a unique and rare community type, a pristine cedar glade, as well as other state listed species.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will also receive funding to help purchase land on the Duck River in Marshall and Maury Counties, Tennessee, to aid in the recovery of several federal and state listed aquatic species. The Duck River is one of the most species-rich and diverse rivers in North America for fish and mussels. Three federally listed mussel species and one federal candidate species occur in the area proposed for acquisition. The acquisition of this tract will protect some of the best mussel habitat found in the river and will help ensure essential riparian habitat protection along the river corridor.




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

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