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Private Landowners in the Southeast Receive $1.3 Million for Endangered Species and Southeastern Native American Tribes Receive $650,000 for Wildlife Resources on Tribal Lands

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2004

Contacts:
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291, cell: (678) 296-6400
Rose Rodriguez, Tall Timbers Research Station, 850-893-4153 ext 258

 

Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL -- Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior today announced that private landowners in the Southeast United States will receive $1.3 million under the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Private Stewardship Grant Program this fiscal year. In addition, Manson announced that three Southeastern Native American tribes will receive $650,000 in grants to conserve endangered species and other wildlife resources on tribal lands. Assistant Secretary Manson’s announcement follows the signing of an Executive Order by President George W. Bush calling on Federal agencies to work in partnership with states, tribes, local communities, conservation organizations, private citizens and others to accomplish the nation’s conservation goals.

Projects funded under the Private Stewardship Grant Program in the Southeast will protect and conserve a diversity of wildlife including red-cockaded woodpeckers in Florida and Georgia; endangered mussels in Alabama and Mississippi; an imperiled plant in Florida; Louisiana black bears in Louisiana; and longleaf pine habitat in several states. (Please see list of funded projects at the end of this news release.) This program is part of a nationwide effort that totals $7 million in federal funds, to be cost-shared by a variety of conservation partners and private landowners.

The Tribal Landowner Incentive Program (TLIP) and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program (TWG) are two new tribal grant programs initiated by the Bush Administration in 2003. Nationwide, 48 federally recognized tribes are receiving more than $9 million to conserve and recover endangered species, threatened and at-risk species and other wildlife on tribal lands in 22 states. The Catawba Indian Nation of South Carolina will receive a $150,000 Tribal Landowner Incentive Program grant to acquire land and restore and transplant federally-listed endangered and threatened plant species. The Seminole Tribe in Florida will get a $250,000 Tribal Wildlife Grant to establish a wildlife management program on their tribal lands in south Florida. Also in Florida, the Miccosukee Tribe will receive a $250,000 Tribal Wildlife Grant to develop a mercury-free fishery on their tribal lands.

“Native American tribes have a special history and relationship with fish and wildlife resources,” said Assistant Secretary Manson, “and these grants are an important component to conserve tribal trust resources, which encompass more than 52 million acres of tribal trust lands in the lower 48 states and an additional 40 million acres held by Alaska native corporations.”

For private landowners in the Southeast, the Private Stewardship Grant Program this year is providing $1.3 million in federal assistance to private landowners who desire to undertake voluntary conservation efforts on private lands to benefit endangered, threatened, candidate, proposed and at-risk species. Private landowners as well as groups that work directly with private landowners are eligible to apply for funding. This is only the second year of the program, and competition for the grants in the Southeast was extremely keen. Over $10 million worth of project proposals were considered for funding.

“The Private Stewardship Grant Program is unique in that it helps the Service build conservation partnerships with private landowners for the benefit of imperiled species, said Manson. “Working together in conservation partnerships is the only way we can realistically address our nation’s environmental challenges. The amount of project funding requested certainly is a reflection that there is substantial interest on behalf of private landowners in the Southeast for carrying out projects to benefit endangered, threatened and at-risk species.”

The administration of the Private Stewardship Grant Program requires a project proposal as well as 10 percent in private matching funds or in-kind contributions. However, many of the projects far exceeded this match amount enabling the available federal dollars to do much more for conservation.

“The Service is very grateful to these landowners for their assistance in working with us towards species recovery,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Since non-federal lands provide at least 80 percent of needed habitat for half of the nation’s threatened and endangered species, private landowners have great influence over the future of some of our most critically imperiled species. We are delighted with the response to this relatively new program and look forward to building stronger partnerships with private landowners who can do so very much to help in the recovery 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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 National Wildlife Refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 National Fish Hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management Offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.


Private Stewardship Grants Funded in the Southeast Region
Fiscal Year 2004

Alabama

Paint Rock River Habitat Enhancement Project - (application by The Nature Conservancy) – Jackson County, Alabama - ($200,000) – To restore riparian habitat in the upper Paint Rock River Watershed. Projects include application of bioengineering methods, planting, root wads, riparian fencing, provision of alternative water sources for livestock, and demonstrating effective best management practices. The benefits of this project include reduced sedimentation and a reduction in threats associated with incompatible agricultural and livestock practices in this area of the watershed. Specific restoration techniques will involve: fencing, stream bank restoration, provision of alternative watering sources, and reforestation in the riparian zone. The Paint Rock River and its major tributaries (Estill Fork, Hurricane Creek, and Larkin Fork) support one of the most diverse aquatic assemblages in North America, including more than 100 species of fish (5 globally rare or imperiled) and approximately 45 mussel species (9 globally rare or imperiled – 2 currently restricted to the Paint Rock).

Alabama and Mississippi

Restoring the Native Prairie Ecosystem and Reducing Non-point Source Pollution on Private Lands in the Blackland Prairie - (application by Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation) – Mississippi and Alabama - ($232,000) – To restore native prairie in the Black Belt Prairie and the Jackson Prairie in Mississippi and Alabama to benefit listed and at-risk prairie plant taxa and to help reduce non-point source pollution runoff to aquatic habitats in this region. The Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation will work with private landowners to restore prairie habitat and show how such restoration can benefit aquatic species within the Tombigbee River System of the Mobile River Basin. At least 3 landowners have indicated interest in native prairie restoration and the project will result in 750 to 1000 acres of prairie restored. Target species include the federally-listed as endangered southern combshell, black combshell, southern clubshell, ovate clubshell, inflated heelsplitter, Bewick’s wren (listed in Mississippi), and the federally-listed as threatened Price’s potato bean, among many other prairie plant taxa of concern to the States.

Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida

Stitching Together the Fragments: Restoring the Imperiled Longleaf Ecosystem - (application by Auburn University) – Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida - ($200,000) - The Longleaf Alliance proposes to undertake planting of longleaf pine as well as rehabilitation (e.g., fire and herbicides) of degraded longleaf pine sites across a portion of its former range, emphasizing the potential to create linkages and augment existing fragments to enhance this critically imperiled ecosystem. The project will benefit over 21 species ranked G1, G2 or G3 by Nature Serve, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern indigo snake, flatwoods salamander, Red Hills salamander, and chaffseed. Twenty-five landowners in Georgia and Alabama are currently on the waiting list for longleaf restoration assistance. It is estimated that 800 acres would be planted to longleaf pine and 4000 acres of degraded longleaf pine would be improved.

Arkansas

Lands Restoration to Benefit Endangered Indiana Bats and Gray Bats in Arkansas - (application by The Nature Conservancy) – Newton and Benton Counties Arkansas - ($24,500) - To enhance habitat for the largest Indiana bat hibernaculum cave remaining in Arkansas (Sherfield Cave) by adding maternity opportunities and increasing the availability of suitable brood trees close to the cave on this 1200-acre property. The project will also help protect this site through fencing, gating roads, educational signage, and restricting access during certain seasons. The project also proposes to help reduce human disturbance of a gray bat colony by protecting the bat flyway from Logan Cave exurgence to Osage Creek by fencing, gating roads, and installing educational signage. This project will benefit six species including gray and Indiana bats, Benton cave crayfish, Ozark cavefish, Ozark cave amphipod, and the cave isopod.

Georgia and North Carolina

Riparian, Floodplain and Wetland Habitat Restoration in Three Areas of the Upper Little Tennessee River Basin of Western North Carolina and North Georgia - (application by Land Trust for the Little Tennessee) – Macon and Graham Counties, North Carolina and Rabun County, Georgia - ($100,000) - The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT) will implement habitat restoration plans on three areas with the highest aquatic biological diversity in the river basin. The project involves streambank stabilization, riparian reforestation, wetland hydrologic restoration, invasive species removal, rivercane restoration, and trash cleanup. It will result in benefits to habitats in the upper Needmore, including riparian wetlands and a 9-acre wetland adjacent to Betty’s Creek; and restoration efforts on the lower reaches of Yellow Creek. The 25 miles of river downstream of Franklin, North Carolina is designated critical habitat for an endangered mussel, the Appalachian elktoe, and a threatened fish, the spotfin chub. In addition, the endangered littlewing pearly mussel, as well as a fish species of Federal concern, the sicklefin redhorse, is found in the river. Additionally, the olive darter, hellbender, bog turtle, and Junaluska salamander may benefit. This river reach in North Carolina is home to fully one quarter of all fish species found in the entire Tennessee Valley. Betty’s Creek supports 27 species of native fish, including several that are found nowhere else in Georgia.

Florida and Georgia

Red Hills Ecological Stewardship Consortium: Management of an Endangered Species and an Endangered Ecosystem on Private Lands - (application by Tall Timbers Research Station) – Leon County, Florida and Thomas and Grady Counties, Georgia - ($72,018) – To support the largest population of red-cockaded woodpeckers on private lands in north Florida and southwest Georgia. This second phase of the project focuses on meeting with all of the remaining landowners whose lands support RCWs, developing Safe Harbor Agreements for 8 new properties, excavating 50 new cavity trees, providing incentives for managing woodpecker habitat and cavity trees, marking 100 cavity trees, and increasing awareness of the role private landowners play in conserving biodiversity of this region. The benefits from this project will help to showcase the role that private lands can play in rare species conservation and management.The target species for this project is the federally-endangered red cockaded woodpecker, but numerous other species dependent upon the longleaf pine ecosystem are also expected to benefit such as the gopher tortoise, Florida pine snake, Bachman’s sparrow, Sherman’s fox squirrel.

Florida

Management of a Nascent Population of the Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker and its Habitat in Northern Florida - (application by Turner Endangered Species Fund) – Jefferson County, Florida - ($28,890) - To expand the size of the nascent population of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker at the Avalon Plantation in northern Florida using a combination of on-the-ground management activities and long-term habitat management agreements. Twelve breeding groups currently reside on the Plantation. The population goal is for 25 to 30 active groups.The population will be increased through targeted intra-population translocation and augmentation, construction of recruitment clusters in key areas, and identification and protection of active cavity trees. The target species for this project is the federally-listed as endangered red- cockaded woodpecker, but other species are expected to benefit including Sherman’s fox squirrel, gopher tortoise, and Florida pine snake.

Restoration of Scrub and Cutthroat Grass Communities on the Lake Wales Ridge – (application by Archbold Biological Station) - Highlands County, Florida - ($36,358) – To conserve and manage 3,648 acres on the south end of Lake Wales Ridge to meet many of the recovery actions for the 13 federally-listed as threatened and endangered species on the site that are identified in the South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan. The work involves preparation of a 10-year burn plan for this newly acquired property, designation of burn units and fire return intervals, preparation of fire breaks around units and fire lanes around the perimeter of the property, construction and repair of fencing to exclude unapproved public access onto lands with rare plants, and implementation of prescribed burns. This project site is located in globally imperiled Florida scrub habitat, mesic flatwoods, cutthroat seeps and bayhead.

Restoration of Privately-Owned Pine Rocklands: Recovering Critical Habitat for six Fish and Wildlife Service Listed Plant Taxa - (application by The Institute for Regional Conservation) – Dade County, Florida - ($115,131) - Pine rocklands are globally imperiled and the fragments that remain represent less than two percent of the original pine rockland. They only occur in South Florida and a few islands in the Bahamas. The last remaining privately owned pine rocklands are in a “state of alarming decline in habitat quality” (Proposal). The Institute for Regional Conservation will develop and initiate active restoration of privately-owned pine rocklands, by working with individual landowners, and hire professional crews to undertake restoration on private properties. This project will result in restoration of 20 sites (approximately 30 to 50 acres) representing the best remaining critical habitat for endangered pine rockland plants. Restoration will include exotic pest plant removal, control of native hardwoods, prescribed burning, debris cleanup, rare plant re-introductions, and re-establishment of a pine canopy.

Introduction of the Federally-Listed Endangered Shrub Florida Ziziphus at Tiger Creek Preserve - (application by The Nature Conservancy) - Polk County, Florida - ($40,870) - Florida ziziphus is the most imperiled plant on the Lake Wales Ridge and is one of the rarest plants in Florida. Five of the six known remaining populations are incapable of producing viable fruit. This project implements the main goal of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Plan for Florida ziziphus which is to establish sexually reproductive populations on protected sites containing appropriate habitat. The Nature Conservancy, working in partnership with others, will establish a reproductively viable population of Florida ziziphus at Tiger Creek Preserve. The project entails site preparation (prescribed burning and installation of irrigation system), propagation, genetic analysis of propagules, transplanting, and maintaining the introduced propagules.

Louisiana

Restoration and Enhancement of Habitat in South Louisiana to Benefit the Louisiana Black Bear and Related Species - (application by Black Bear Conservation Committee) – Iberia and Point Coupee Counties, Louisiana - ($65,802) – To work with private landowners to improve habitat for the Louisiana black bear, particularly in key corridor areas with or near high bear density areas in the Atchafalaya River Basin and the coastal zone of Louisiana. The focus will be on salt dome hardwood forest, coastal live oak-hackberry forest, and bottomland hardwood forest restoration. This project will result in direct benefits to the federally listed Louisiana black bear as well as other species of plants and wildlife, including the Swallow-tailed kite and Swainson’s warbler. It will result in invasive species removal on 500 acres, reforesting of 300 acres, and removal of wild hogs. Importantly, this project also can be expected to help link existing Louisiana black bear subpopulations (Pointe Coupee and Tensas).

South Carolina

Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) Restoration and Management for Listed Species on Groton Plantation, Allendale and Hampton Counties, South Carolina - (application by Groton Land Company, Inc) – Hampton and Allendale Counties, South Carolina - ($16,725) - Groton Plantation is a 23,000 acre hunting plantation along the Savannah River in South Carolina that is home to one of the largest red-cockaded woodpecker populations (55 active clusters) found on non-industrial private forest land. This project involves providing 35 artificial cavities (drilled and inserts), 10 artificial cavity starts, and the placement of restrictor plates on cavities to benefit the federally-listed as endangered red cockaded woodpeckers on this site.

Forest Ecosystem Conservation for Rare and Declining Species on Family Forestlands in South Carolina - (application by American Forest Foundation) – Multiple Counties, South Carolina - ($176,000) - The American Bird Conservancy, American Forest Foundation, Clemson University and South Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy will work in partnership to improve ecosystem conservation for declining species dependent upon fire-maintained southern pine communities and forested wetlands in South Carolina. The overall goal of the project is to build on the Service’s Safe Harbor model for the red-cockaded woodpecker and apply it to forest conservation in South Carolina. This project will focus on engaging non-industrial private forest owners in active management to benefit many rare and declining species. The project also complements a multi-year, landscape level conservation effort currently being undertaken by the Lowcountry Forest Conservation Project (LFCP) which includes Clemson University, Ducks Unlimited, the Joseph Jones Ecological Research Center, the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the S. C. Coastal Conservation League, the Conservation Fund, and The Nature Conservancy. This Private Stewardship Grant will provide cost-share funds to encourage pine ecosystem restoration and management on family forestlands for those landowners who desire to enter into Forest Ecosystem Management Agreements under which they will implement practices that benefit target species. Examples of these practices include: control of invasive species, prescribed burning, thinning to reduce canopy cover and encourage growth of herbaceous vegetation, control of hardwoods, restoration of longleaf pine.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.


Private Stewardship Grants Program Fact Sheet

Greg Hagan is starting to drill an artificial cavity in a living pine.  Photo by Jim Cox.


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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