U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces 183 Projects in Southeast Region Under President’s Economic Recovery Plan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2009
Tom Mackenzie, Tom_MacKenzie@fws.gov, 404/679-7291
Atlanta, Georgia – From the Lower Mississippi River’s Delta to North Carolina’s coast and south to the waters of the Caribbean, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will undertake 183 construction projects in the agency’s Southeast Region focused on energy efficiency, habitat restoration and facility improvements at national wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries and other lands, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today.
These projects total approximately $56.5 million for improvements within the Southeast.
Salazar noted that these projects also create jobs and conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife resources, treasured landscapes, and rich heritage for future generations. In the Southeast Region, funding will be used to build two new visitor centers and complete one of the largest floodplain reconnection projects ever in the Mississippi River Basin.
Funding for these projects and hundreds more across the nation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Act provides $280 million to the Service – which includes $115 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at Service facilities, and $165 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects. The Service will benefit from an additional $10 million administered by the Department of Transportation used improve and rebuild roads on several national wildlife refuges. This money is not included in the Service’s $280 million appropriation. Projects will immediately create local jobs in the communities where they are located, while stimulating long-term employment and economic opportunities for the American public.
“These projects are an investment in America’s future that will help get our country moving again,” Salazar said. “They will enable us to preserve our rich history and natural heritage by conserving and restoring awe-inspiring landscapes, important historic sites and crucial wildlife habitat.”
The Service will receive $56.5 million for 183 projects in the Southeast Region, including:
- Capital Improvements: $4.3 million
- Deferred Maintenance of facilities and infrastructure: $24.5 million
- Habitat Restoration: $10.3 million
- Construction of new visitor centers and other facilities: $12.7 million
- Reconstruction and Repair of Service buildings and other structures: $3.8 million
- Energy Efficiency Retrofits of Service facilities: $687,000
The 183 projects are spread across the Southeast Region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rice and the Virgin Islands. They will benefit national wildlife refuges such as the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge and the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, where a total of $12.7 million will be spent to build two new visitor centers that will include office space for Service employees and eliminate thousands of dollars in annual rental payments.
Among other highlights for the Southeast Region, more than $2 million will be used to breach 16 miles of levee at the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, reconnecting roughly 16,000 acres of floodplain to the Ouachita River to restore vital habitat for migratory birds, aquatic species, and other wildlife.
“These projects will strengthen our conservation work, enhance the experience of visitors at our national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, improve energy efficiency, and save money in the future by eliminating thousands of dollars in rental payments for office space,” said Sam Hamilton, Regional Director in the Service’s Southeast Region. “Equally important, these projects will help us create jobs over the next two years and improve the experience of hunters, anglers, birders, and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts at wild places across the Southeast, from Louisiana to North Carolina’s coast.”
All the projects announced today represent long-standing priority needs identified by the Service through its capital planning process. The Service worked through a rigorous merit-based process to identify and prioritize investments meeting the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that a project addresses the Department’s highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.
Under the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Department of the Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless natural and historical treasures, while also focusing on renewable energy projects, employing youth and promoting community service.
For a full list of funded projects nationwide, go to the Department’s Recovery Web Site at http://recovery.doi.gov/. Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site, which will include an interactive map that enables the public to track where and how the Department’s recovery dollars are being spent. In addition, the public can submit questions, comments or concerns at email@example.com.
Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General to ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency that President Obama has set.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/southeast/.