Partnerships in Georgia and North Carolina Will Receive Coastal Wetland Grants to Protect Wildlife and Habitat
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will award more than $13 million in grants to 10 states to conserve, restore and protect coastal wetlands. Partners in this year's projects include state and local governments, private landowners and conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy and the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust. These partnerships will receive nearly $2 million in the Southeast.
"Citizen-stewards are often our most effective conservationists, and programs like the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant program empower them." Interior Secretary Gale Norton said. "People working in partnership will help us ensure that we can pass along to our children and grandchildren a country that is as healthy and whole as the one we inherited. This is another effective example of cooperative conservation, a concept in which President Bush firmly believes."
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will acquire 5,491acres in Clayhole Swamp in the Altamaha River Watershed. The Altamaha River supports Georgia’s best stocks of anadromous fish including American shad, shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon. After acquisition the site will be available for hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor recreational use. The Department will contribute $722,500 and the partner, The Nature Conservancy, will contribute $1,500,000 to $1,000,000 in grant funds.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will acquire 107 acres on Brown’s Island located within the White Oak River Basin in Carteret County. Brown’s Island is an undeveloped island that hosts a diversity of natural communities and has been designated by the State as a significant natural heritage site. The Commission will contribute $428,843 and the partner, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, will contribute $6,000 to $904,267 in grant funds.
National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants are awarded to states through a competitive process. The program is funded by the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding for the program is generated from excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels. These taxes are deposited into the Sport Fish Restoration Account of the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund.
To date, the Service has awarded almost $152 million in grants to states and a U.S. territory under the program. When the 2005 grants projects are complete, they will have protected and/or restored almost 22,000 acres. Almost 189,000 acres will have been protected or restored since the wetlands grant program began in 1990.
For more information about the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program contact the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203 or Division of Federal Aid, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203; or check the program's Internet home page at http://www.fws.gov/cep/cwgcover.html.
This year, the program became the first Service grant program to accept proposals electronically through grants.gov. The grants.gov website is a cross-agency E-Government initiative, spanning 900 federal financial assistance programs and $350 billion in annual grants.
States awarded grants for fiscal year 2005 under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program are Alaska, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The grants provide funding for 16 projects and will be supplemented with nearly $13 million from state and private partners.
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.
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