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Private Landowners, Organizations Across Southeast to Receive Nearly $1.4 Million in Grants to Benefit Endangered Species

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2006

Contacts:
Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291
Jennifer Koches, 843-727-4707, ext. 214
Brosnan Forest, 843-563-5705


ST. GEORGE, S.C. – Milliken Forestry Resources, Inc., and 45 private landowners and organizations will receive nearly $500,000 to boost conservation efforts for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker through a public-private partnership program run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Standing in a beautiful longleaf pine forest, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Matt Hogan today announced more than $6.9 million in federal grants is being made available through the Service’s Private Stewardship Grants program to support private landowners and groups working on conservation projects to benefit endangered, threatened and at – risk species.

Hogan’s announcement came here at Brosnan Forest, located northwest of Charleston, South Carolina, where he drew attention to the work Milliken is doing with nearly four dozen private landowners and organizations to restore and improve longleaf pine habitats on 17,645 acres to benefit red-cockaded woodpeckers. Milliken will receive $464,925 - the largest single private stewardship grant awarded since the program was created four years ago to benefit species conservation on private lands and bolster collaborative conservation. Nearly $1.4 million will be awarded to landowners and conservation organizations across the southeastern United States.

“The Private Stewardship Grants program helps conservationists build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones to benefit wildlife conservation,” Hogan said. “This grant program is a Bush Administration initiative launched four year ago to empower citizens to conserve imperiled species on private lands across the nation. What the people at Milliken are accomplishing with the help of private landowners here is a testament to the benefit of that kind of empowerment.”

Norfolk Southern Railroad, which owns and manages Brosnan Forest and has a long commitment to collaborative conservation, hosted the event and is one of the private landowners that will benefit from the Milliken grant. Brosnan Forest is over 16,000 acres in size and supports 75 groups of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The Forest is a member of the 1998 State-side Safe Harbor Agreement, and has provided birds for translocation to other areas. Its leaders have partnered with the Service, Clemson University and others on various research projects since 1998.

“The Private Stewardship Grants program is one of the finest examples of providing incentives to private landowners to work with others to help recover endangered species,” said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service’s southeast regional director. “It provides the seed money for on-the-ground actions that better support species like the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and other endangered and threatened species.”

Endangered and threatened species depend on private land for their habitat, and many landowners need assistance to help in the conservation efforts for these species. The Private Stewardship Grant program provides financial assistance to landowners and groups interested in undertaking voluntary conservation actions on private lands to benefit imperiled species.

The grants approved today range from small grants involving one landowner to the Milliken grant, which is the largest ever awarded through this program. This year, 14 projects were approved in the southeast involved over 83 partners and include:

Alabama

Paint Rock River (application by The Nature Conservancy) – Jackson County, Alabama – ($190,000) - The Nature Conservancy proposes to work with two private landowners in the upper Paint Rock River watershed to enhance approximately 1000 feet of riparian habitat to benefit imperiled fish and mussel species. The Paint Rock River and its tributaries are well known for its aquatic species diversity, especially for freshwater mussels. This project will directly benefit 6 federally-endangered mussels --the shiny pigtoe, fine-rayed pigtoe, pink mucket, Alabama lampmussel, rough pigtoe and pale lilliput and the federal candidate, the slabside pearlymussel. Additionally, 5 rare fish species are also expected to benefit including the endangered palezone shiner and the threatened snail darte. The project work will be done in Jackson County, Alabama.

Arkansas

Arkansas Blackland Ecosystem (application by The Nature Conservancy – Arkansas Chapter) – Hempstead County, Arkansas – ($56,250*) - The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas will work on their lands and also with private landowners to aid in the restoration of the blackland prairie ecosystem. They will assist with the implementation of the strategies, including removal of eastern red cedar from 200 acres; reduce exotic species by 75 percent on 100 acres; reduce erosion on 200 acres by 50 percent; and measure results. The project will result in benefits for many rare plant and animal species including the Diana fritillary butterfly, the bald eagle, Bachman's sparrow and LeConte's sparrow.

Strawberry River Best Management Practices (application by The Nature Conservancy – Arkansas Chapter) - Various Counties, Arkansas – ($28,000) - The Nature Conservancy, as a part of its Strawberry River Watershed initiative, will work with two private development landowners to reduce sedimentation resulting from unpaved roads on over 3,000 acres of privately developed land. This project would help protect the endangered Scaleshell mussel in this reach of the river and also would benefit at least 12 other freshwater mussel species of concern, such as the Western fanshell, snuffbox, purple lilliput, pyramid pigtoe and Ozark pigtoe, among others.

Cave Crayfish – (application by The Nature Conservancy – Arkansas Chapter) – Washington County, Arkansas – ($20,748*) -The Nature Conservancy will undertake a project at Elm Springs designed to provide protection for the endangered cave crayfish, one of the rarest crayfish in the world. They will reduce habitat disturbance through fencing and reduce habitat degradation by installing off-site watering locations for cattle and planting of riparian vegetation at the locations. The project will also result in reduced toxins entering groundwater habitat through removal of the toxic materials at the Elm Springs site.

Mulberry River – (application by The Nature Conservancy – Arkansas Chapter) – Franklin County, Arkansas – ($63,750) - The Nature Conservancy will work with a private landowner to implement streambank restoration and re-vegetate adjacent riparian areas using native species. This project is being undertaken to benefit the Scaleshell mussel in the Mulberry River.

Florida

Working Across the Fenceline – (application by The Nature Conservancy) – Polk, Highlands, Lake, Orange, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hardee, Desoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Osceola and Brevard Counties, Florida – ($75,000) - Through the Central Florida Lygodium Strategy, a public/private partnership, The Nature Conservancy will work with at least six private landowners towards a landscape approach to controlling two invasive species of climbing ferns on 110 acres of land. Old World climbing fern is invading from south Florida and Japanese climbing fern is spreading from the north. This project will help implement a comprehensive landscape level approach to control these invasive species that choke native vegetation, increase fire by allowing it to reach tree canopies, and otherwise destroy the value of the habitat for wildlife. Species expected to benefit from this project include the eastern Indigo snake, red-cocked woodpecker, wood stork, snail kite, Florida panther and bald eagle. Additionally, the federally endangered Beautiful Pawpaw and 32 other state-listed plants, such as celestial lily, spoon-leaved sundew, and star anise will benefit from this project.

Project Green Sweep II – (application by The Nature Conservancy) – Monroe County, Florida – ($101,903) – Working with private landowners, The Nature Conservancy will treat invasive exotic plant infestations with a focus on coastal areas adjacent to public conservation lands in the Florida Keys. Over 28 landowners have expressed interest in this program which will also benefit four species of sea turtles, Key deer, the Lower Keys marsh rabbit, rice rat, bald eagle and other species. To complement this project, the State of Florida will be supplying $26,000 of contracted exotics removal for public lands in the area.

Louisiana

Louisiana Black Bear (application by the Black Bear Conservation Committee) – Various Counties in Louisiana – ($89,997) - The Black Bear Conservation Committee will work with partners and private landowners to conduct enhancement and reforestation activities on 500 acres of land to help establish forest corridors for the Louisiana black bear. They will control invasive species and plant native species in areas where there are gaps in the landscape-scale forest corridor from Arkansas to the Gulf of Mexico. This project is being undertaken primarily to help connect populations of the federally threatened Louisiana black bear although other species expected to benefit include the Ivory-billed woodpecker, Swallow-tailed kite and Swainson's warbler.

North Carolina

Wildlife Habitat Improvement – Hoke County (application by private landowner) – Hoke County, North Carolina – ($23,841) - This project will restore the longleaf pine ecosystem on lands enrolled in the Safe Harbor program and which support the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and other at-risk species. Specifically, the landowner will treat 177 acres of woodland to control hardwood encroachment and conduct prescribed fire on an additional 57 acres.

South Carolina

Good Hope Plantation (application by Good Hope Corporation) – Beaufort and Jasper Counties, South Carolina – ($61,200) - The grantee will conduct prescribed burning on approximately 6,000 acres to control hardwood mid-story and benefit 16 active groups of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. These lands are enrolled in the South Carolina red-cockaded woodpecker Safe Harbor Program. Other species expected to benefit from this project include two bald eagle territories on the site, swallow-tailed kites that have been observed on the property, and potentially, Backman's sparrow.

Milliken (application by Milliken Forestry Company, Inc.) - Jasper, Hampton, Allendale, Barnwell, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Orangeburg, Berkeley, Georgetown, Williamsburg, Marion, Sumter, Calhoun, and Richland Counties in South Carolina and Screven County, Georgia - ($464,925) - Milliken Forestry will work in partnership with over 45 private landowners, many of whom are engaged in the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Safe Harbor Program, to restore and improve longleaf pine habitat on approximately 17,645 acres. The project involves mid-story hardwood control and prescribed burning to benefit the federally-endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, a key indicator species for the longleaf ecosystem, as well as chaff-seed, pond berry, Canby's dropwort and other species dependent upon this ecosystem. The project also will complement other major landscape level conservation efforts in the area.

Multi-state

Native Prairie Ecosystem – Phase II (application by Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation) – Various Counties, Mississippi and Alabama – ($160,043) - Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Mississippi State University, BASF Corporation and Environmental Defense will work with private landowners to restore and enhance 750 acres of native prairie habitat within the Blackland Prairie of the Mobile River Basin. Using funds from other sources, the project partners will hold workshops and outreach events that will result in increased landowner interest in proper management of the native prairie ecosystem and in how management of non-point source pollution can benefit many aquatic species. Species expected to benefit from this prairie restoration project include the Mississippi-state listed Bewick’s wren, the federally-threatened plant Price’s potato bean, and freshwater mussels such as the federally-endangered southern combshell, southern clubshell, ovate clubshell, heavy pigtoe and the federally-threatened Alabama moccasinshell. During Phase I of this project, approximately 1,462 acres were converted to native warm season grasses in the historical Blackland Prairie region.

Mussels and Darters (application by Wildlife Forever) – Lawrence and Wayne Counties, Tennessee; Grant and Rapides Parishes, Louisiana; Franklin County, North Carolina – ($35,600) - International Paper and Wildlife Forever will partner to protect and enhance two federally-listed aquatic species on lands owned by International Paper. The project will conduct slab rock habitat enhancement and reintroduce the federally-endangered Boulder darter to Shoal Creek, Tennessee. In Louisiana, the partners will undertake surveys for the federally-threatened Louisiana pearlshell mussel and assess and implement actions to improve habitat artificially to benefit this species.

Red Hills Ecological Stewardship - (application by Tall Timbers Research Station) – Leon County, Florida; Thomas and Grady Counties, Georgia – ($69,301) - Tall Timbers Research Station, working through the Red Hills Ecological Stewardship Consortium, will work with private landowners in the Red Hills region to demonstrate the far-reaching effects that private lands management can play in the conservation of the federally-endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and other species dependent upon the longleaf pine ecosystem. Specifically, the project will result in the construction of 75 artificial cavities for the red-cockaded woodpecker, translocate at least three sub adult pairs of red-cockaded woodpeckers into unoccupied habitat, augment single bird groups, promote and recruit up to four landowners into Safe Harbor Agreements, monitor nest productivity, assist landowners in obtaining incentives for management activities, and work on the Century Forest Initiative.

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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal 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.



*Denotes partial funding.


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