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Secretary Kempthorne Announces $67 Million in Grants to Support Land Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species -- Southeastern States Get Nine Grants Totaling $5.3 Million


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2006


Contacts:
Tom MacKenzie, (FWS) 404-679-7291
Valerie Fellows, 202-208-5634

 

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today announced more than $67 million in grants to 27 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants. The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit species ranging from orchids to bull trout that are found across the United States.

Here in the Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee have a total of $5,332,819 for conservation projects (listed below).

“These grants are incredibly important tools to conserve threatened and endangered species,” said Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “Our ability to successfully conserve habitat for imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation. These grants provide the means for States to work with landowners and communities to conserve habitat and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”

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.

The cooperative endangered species fund this year provides $7.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $46 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program and $13.9 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help reduce potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.

Under the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to States or Territories for land acquisition associated with approved HCPs. The grants are targeted to help landowners who want to undertake proactive conservation work on their lands to conserve imperiled species. HCPs are agreements between a landowner and the Service, allowing a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the death, injury or harassment of a listed species, when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their own jurisdiction and may address multiple species. There are more than 650 HCPs currently in effect covering 600 separate species on approximately 41 million acres.

Among recipients of today's HCP Land Acquisition grants is the state of California, receiving a $12 million grant to purchase habitat to support the Western Riverside County Multi-species HCP. This grant will permanently protect habitat for 18 federally listed species on 578 acres in Riverside County. By purchasing 450 acres of land in the San Jacinto River area, several core populations of federally listed plants, including spreading navarretia, San Jacinto Valley crownscale, thread-leaved brodiaea, and slender-horned spineflower will be conserved. In addition, the grant will conserve lands along the San Jacinto River, protecting one of three major populations of the federally endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat. The funds will also be used to purchase 128 acres of land in the Santa Rosa Plateau area to protect one of the most ecologically significant complexes of vernal pools in southern California that supports populations of the Riverside fairy shrimp. Other species that will benefit from acquisition of these lands include least Bell’s vireo, the coastal California gnatcatcher, California Orcutt grass and Munz’s onion.

The HCP Planning Assistance Program provides grants to States and Territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach, and similar planning activities. In Montana a $574,334 grant will enable the Montana Department of Natural Resources to complete an HCP that covers half a million acres of state lands across 25 counties in northwestern Montana. This HCP will ultimately protect five federally listed species and two state sensitive species: Canada lynx, grizzly bears, bull trout, bald eagles, gray wolves, westslope cutthroat trout and Columbia River redband trout. This project will set a statewide precedent for balancing forest practices and public land management with species conservation. The overall conservation strategy will emphasize forest management practices that maintain healthy ecosystems, promote biodiversity, and protect important ecological features across all HCP-covered lands.

The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Habitat acquisition to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species. One of this year’s grants will provide $1,794,500 to preserve 3,148 acres in the South Kona District of the Island of Hawaii located within a core region identified for enhancing wildlife conservation in the Hawaii Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. The acquisitions provide a unique opportunity to increase existing efforts to protect and manage rare forest habitats that support threatened and endangered species. The species benefiting from the grant include several Hawaii forest birds: the ‘akepa, ‘akiopo’a’au, and Hawaii creeper. It is also within the range of the alala (Hawaiian crow) and io (Hawaiian hawk).

For a complete list of the 2006 grant awards for these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615), see the Service’s Endangered Species Grants home page at http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/section6/index.html.

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, 63 fishery resource 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 Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.



FY2006 Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Grants -- Southeast Grants

Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants by State: (*Indicates partial funding awarded)

North Carolina

*Sandhills HCP – Odom Tract (Scotland County, North Carolina): $280,650. This grant will help provide perpetual protection and habitat management on 260 acres of land that will support one of the largest remaining populations of the federally-listed endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in the nation. This land protection will ensure conservation of a key inholding in the North Carolina Sandhills Game Lands, the core habitat of the Sandhills West essential support population of red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants by State:

Arkansas

The Big Woods of Arkansas (Arkansas, Phillips, Prairie, Monroe, St. Francis, White and Cross Counties, AR): $250,140. This grant will help the State of Arkansas as it undertakes planning efforts for year two of a multi-species landscape-level HCP in the Big Woods Area of Arkansas where a sighting of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was confirmed last year. The plan will focus on six federally listed endangered species, including the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the interior least tern, the red-cockaded woodpecker, and three federally listed endangered mussels: the fat pocketbook, the pink mucket and the scaleshell. The State and its many partners will work together to address ways to avoid disruption to traditional economic activities, such as hunting, farming, fishing and forestry while at the same time exploring ways to foster ecotourism that can lead to conservation for the involved species.

Florida

Development of a HCP for Shoreline Protection on Walton County Beaches (Walton County, FL): $446,000. This grant will provide funding for the initiation of planning efforts for a coastal multi-species HCPforshoreline protection measures on approximately 250 acres of beach habitat important to 7 federally-listed species and 12 State protected species. Species that will be considered during the process include five species of sea turtles, the endangered Choctawhatchee beach mouse, and piping plovers. The Choctawhatchee beach mouse is endemic to this area, and the proposed project would aid in the recovery efforts for this species. This section of the Florida Gulf coast is particularly susceptible to hurricanes. Development of an HCP will allow the State to address the needs for shoreline protection while at the same time ensuring the conservation of endangered, threatened and at-risk species.

Georgia

Lower Flint River Basin Habitat Conservation Planning (Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Early, Miller, Randolph, Stewart, Terrell and Webster Counties, GA): $130,183. This grant will help the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division work with other partners to initiate planning for development of a HCP for the Lower Flint River. This area of the Flint River is known for its diversity of freshwater mussels. This HCP is expected to benefit at least five federally listed freshwater mussels, including the shiny-rayed pocketbook, oval pigtoe, Gulf moccasinshell, purple bankclimber and fat threeridge. In addition, four State threatened aquatic species, nine species of special concern and four State rare or unusual species are also expected to benefit. During the first year, activities will focus on education and outreach to raise awareness of the value of freshwater mussels, and assessing stream flow requirements for freshwater mussels through the use of hydrologic and statistical models. The State also will work to build partnerships with 18 agencies to guide the educational and outreach tasks and ultimately play an important role in the HCP development and implementation.

Multi-State Grants

Kentucky and Tennessee

Development of a HCP for the Cumberlands Region (Wayne, McCreary, Pulaski, Clinton and Whitley Counties in KY; Anderson, Roane, Rhea, Scott, Campbell, Morgan, Cumberland, Bledsoe, Fentress, Pickett, Putnam and Overton Counties in TN): $442,080. This third 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. The Northern Cumberlands area is well known for its biologically diverse ecosystems as demonstrated by the fact that the area supports over 19 federally-listed species. During this planning grant period, project objectives include continuing to build stakeholder support, reaching consensus on the species that will be addressed in the HCP, defining the specific area for the plan, continuing research priorities related to plan development, identifying major impacts to the species as well as addressing the alternatives that may be appropriate for minimizing and mitigating these impacts. The plan seeks to address imperiled species conservation needs while carrying out activities such as coal mining, water supply development or forestry.

Recovery Land Acquisition Grants by State:

Alabama

Acquisition of the Pate Tract, Red Hills Alabama (Monroe County, AL): $493,500. This grant will enable the purchase of 270 acres for the Red Hills salamander, a threatened species found in southern Alabama. The species is considered unique in both its life history and narrow geographic range. The lack of adequate habitat under permanent protection and impacts to habitat are the primary threats to the species. The purchase of this parcel will provide habitat protection and a reference site for land management and restoration of other parcels in the region.

Georgia

Acquisition of the Raccoon Creek Tract (Paulding County, GA): $1,000,000. This purchase, located within the Etowah River basin, is expected to result in the protection of 3,296 acres to benefit listed species of fish, including Etowah and Cherokee darters. This project is expected to result in protection of over two miles of stream frontage and buffers along the main stem of Raccoon Creek. The acquisition will also complement previous State acquisitions in the area, such as the Sheffield Wildlife Management Area.

Kentucky

Acquisition of Tracts for Short’s Goldenrod and Listed Mussels (Fleming and Nicholas Counties, KY): $550,000. This acquisition will enable in the protection of 822 acres in the Licking River watershed. The purchase will benefit Short’s goldenrod by protecting occupied habitat and providing sites for reintroduction of the species. It will also benefit the fanshell, clubshell, and sheepnose mussels within the project area by protecting water quality and reducing sediment load within the watershed.

South Carolina

Acquisition of the Hamilton Ridge Tract (Hampton County, SC): $1,740,266. This purchase will protect approximately 1,163 acres to benefit listed and candidate species, including the robust redhorse, along the Savannah River in South Carolina. The property is located adjacent to the Savannah River, which supports the largest known concentrations of the federally endangered short-nose sturgeon. The property also supports the endangered wood stork by providing roosting, nesting and foraging habitat. This purchase is part of a larger effort to acquire 13,281 acres along Hamilton Ridge, an area that supports a number of rare species and other wildlife.

 


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