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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s FY 2005 Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Grants for the Southeast Region

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2005

Contacts:
Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291




The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Fund this year provides $727,458 through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program and $3,749,764 through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program in the Southeast Region. These programs, along with the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Grants Program were established to help reduce potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.

Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the grants enable States to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

Under the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to States or Territories for land acquisitions associated with approved HCPs. These HCPs, which are agreements between a landowner and the Service, allow a landowner to incidentally take threatened or endangered species in the course of otherwise lawful activities when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of taking. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their own jurisdiction; it may address multiple species.

The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species in approved recovery plans. Acquisition of habitat to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.

HCP Grants Funded in the Southeast Region:

Arkansas
The Big Woods of Arkansas (Arkansas, Phillips, Prairie, Monroe, St. Francis, White and Cross Counties, AR): $250,250. This grant to the State of Arkansas will help start the planning phase of a multi-species landscape-level HCP in the Big Woods Area of Arkansas where a sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker was recently confirmed. The plan will focus on the following six federally-listed endangered species: the ivory-billed woodpecker, the interior least tern, the redcockaded woodpecker, and three federally-listed endangered mussels including the fat pocketbook, the pink mucket and the scaleshell. These funds will help the State of Arkansas and many partners work with private landowners and other stakeholders on timber and farm management, guiding and hunting to help provide habitat needed for the above species.

Georgia
Etowah River Basin HCP (Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson, Forsyth, Fulton, Lumpkin, Paulding and Pickens Counties, GA): $98,398. This grant will help the Georgia Department of Natural Resources work with 20 local governments and 102 involved stakeholders in the implementation and completion of the Etowah River Habitat Conservation Plan. This regional plan will improve the conservation and protection of three federally listed aquatic species and four state-protected aquatic species. The Etowah River is known for its aquatic species diversity, and the area covered by the HCP also includes potential habitat for the reintroduction of five federally-listed mussel species. Local governmental officials will be implementing ordinances and policies to ensure the conservation and protection of imperiled aquatic species while allowing development to proceed in an environmentally-sound manner.

Tennessee and Kentucky HCP (Wayne, McCreary, Pulaski, and Whitley Counties in KY; Anderson, Roane, Rhea, Scott, Campbell, Morgan, Cumberland, Bledsoe, Fentress, Pickett, Putnam and Overton Counties in TN): $378,810. This second year grant will further support the States of Tennessee and Kentucky in the development of a multi-species, multi-county, landscape-level plan in the Northern Cumberlands area, including portions of the upper Tennessee and Cumberland River watersheds. This area supports an extremely high diversity of freshwater fish, mussels, wildlife and plants. A Habitat Conservation Plan will help involve private landowners and other stakeholders work together to develop conservation strategies that will minimize and mitigate impacts from coal mining, forestry, and water supply at the landscape level. Nineteen federally-listed species are currently being considered in the planning process, including many imperiled freshwater mussels. Activities will include formation of working groups, a science advisory team, a legal advisory team, research to evaluate impacts to important species, species monitoring, and community outreach to increase public awareness of the Habitat Conservation Planning process.

RLA Grants Funded in the Southeast Region:

Arkansas
An ecoregion approach to recovery of the Ozark big-eared bat and three other federally listed karst dependent species: Phase II (Benton and Marion Counties, Arkansas) ($405,190). The proposal lays out a plan to purchase tracts in both Oklahoma and Arkansas that provide foraging habitat, movement corridors, and roost sites for populations for Ozark big-eared bat, gray bat, and Indiana bat. The acquisition will also reduce the likelihood of extinction for the Ozark big-eared bat by providing increased dispersal opportunities and increased gene flow among isolated populations. Additionally, the project will result in increased protection of the Ozark cavefish.

Ivory-billed woodpecker Acquisition (East Central Arkansas) ($1,000,000) The purchase of parcels in the Big Woods of Arkansas is expected to benefit the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker. Additional suitable habitat is badly needed to reduce habitat fragmentation, to provide large blocks of mature bottomland forests that this foraging specialist requires, and to establish travel corridors between suitable blocks.

South Carolina
Forty-Acre Rock Heritage Preserve Acquisition (Lancaster County, South Carolina) ($1,000,000) This grant will facilitate the purchase of 2,459 acres to supplement the Forty-Acre Rock Heritage Preserve providing a buffer and protection for numerous rare species on the preserve and a diverse mussel population in Flat Creek, adjacent to the preserve. The population of Carolina Heelsplitter at this location is thought to be the largest surviving population of this endangered species. Additional species located on the preserve include two federally listed, endangered plants (black-spored quillwort, smooth coneflower).

Georgia
Dawson Forest/Glass Mountain Acquisition (Dawson County, Georgia) ($1,000,000) This acquisition will provide stream buffers along two miles of the Amicalola River, a very important tributary to the Etowah River. Populations of several imperiled fish species are located just downstream of the property. Three species of fish and five species of mussels are currently federally listed within the Etowah River basin and protection of high priority habitat has been identified as a critical strategy for their recovery.

Kentucky
Green River Acquisition (Hart County, Kentucky) ($581,274) Purchase of these parcels would protect riverine and riparian habitat to benefit seven listed and one candidate mussel species by focusing on protection of tracts that lie along reaches where the species are known to occur. Additionally, it could provide opportunities for future reintroductions of declining mussel species.

Tennessee
Flat Rock State Natual Area Acquisition (Rutherford County, Tennessee) ($552,087) Two federally listed species (leafy prairie clover and Pyne’s ground plum) and at least sixteen state-listed species will benefit from the purchase. Further, a significant limestone cedar-glade and barrens will be protected. Upon acquisition, a management plan to target conservation of federal and state listed species, and their habitats will be produced.

Blaker Towhead Acquisition (partially funded) (Lake and Dyer Counties, Tennessee) ($398,432) This acquisition will allow for hydrologic restoration of an area to benefit least tern and pallid sturgeon. The area is expected to benefit least tern by providing nesting habitat for the species, which currently uses this location as a resting site. The restoration of the area is expected to provide benefits to the recovery of pallid sturgeon by restoring hydrology and reconnecting cut-off features in the river.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, 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 545 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.


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


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