Newsroom Midwest Region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2016

Contact:
Mara Koenig, 612-713-5316, mara_koenig@fws.gov

Midwest imperiled species receive more than $2.2 million

States working together for wildlife across landscape and regional boundaries is the focus for awarding Midwest states more than $2.2 million in grants through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s competitive State Wildlife Grants program. The funds help conserve and protect Species of Greatest Conservation Need and will be distributed to five Midwest state fish and wildlife agencies: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Projects financed by the State Wildlife Grants program help safeguard some of our nation’s most at-risk species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By strategically funding work that supports large-scale conservation efforts, we can help protect our nation’s native wildlife and wild places while potentially preventing the listing of certain species under the Endangered Species Act.”

Priority is given to large-scale cooperative conservation projects that implement strategies and actions to conserve species listed in approved State Wildlife Action Plans. All 56 states and territorial wildlife agencies have such plans, which proactively protect imperiled species. The funding will be matched by nearly $1.1 million in non-federal funds provided by states and their partners for projects that help protect species and the ecoystems on which they depend.

Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa Department of Natural Resources will use climate-smart conservation efforts targeting the wood turtle, the ornate box turtle and associated habitats. The partners will identify flood-safe zones as part of an adaptive management strategy to address increased flood severity and frequency in targeted areas. Previous actions supported by the State Wildlife Grant Program have shown success, with significantly decreased mortality at protected nest sites and new nesting documented at 50 percent of restored sites. The partners will continue management of existing nest areas, identify and protect new nest areas and monitor and share results of active management activities.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and university researchers, proposes to restore native mussels to watersheds in both states. The partners will target plain pocketbook and fatmucket mussels, with the likehood to benefit a variety of other species. Objectives include production of habitat suitability models, restoration of 50 acres of stream bank and upland habitat in Iowa, captive rearing and release of 25,000 mussel individuals in Nebraska and construction of a dedicated mussel propagation facility. Although the ultimate goal of the mussel reintroduction is to support natural recruitment of the native mussels at restoration sites, survival at these sites will serve as a measure of effectiveness during the project performance period.

Benefiting two bumble bee species, the monarch butterfly and the endangered Karner blue butterfly Michigan and Wisconsin DNR’s are parterning to restore and enhance grassland, prairie and savanna habitats. Management activities include prescribed fire, mechanical treatment, invasive plant control and seeding to increase known host plants of the targeted species. At least 850 acres of priority public and private lands will be restored and enhanced. Evaluation of management actions will determine the most effective methods for pollinator conservation in each state.

Restoring royalty to the prairies of Iowa and Nebraska for the regal fritillary and monarch butterfly will involve improving habitat quantity, quality and connectivity. Iowa DNR, Nebraska Game and Parks Department and their partners will evaluate effectiveness of proposed conservation actions by measuring impacts on regal fritillary and monarch butterfly populations at restoration sites. Requested funds will help restore and reconstruct prairies near existing prairie remnants that have a high potential for hosting the two target butterflies and other species of conservation need.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is partnering with Illinois Department of Natural Resources for a two-state effort focusing on the rattlesnake-master borer, a rare moth that is a Service candidate species. The partners will manage and restore high-priority prairies, glades and barrens/woodlands complexes identified in the Kentucky and Illinois Wildlife Action Plans as important habitats. A significant focus of the project will be the formation of fire strike teams, using prescribed fire to improve 5,500 acres to increase native plant diversity for the benefit of SGCN. The agencies propose to increase relative abundance of the rattlesnake-master borer moth by 20 percent from baseline levels.

“We appreciate the role state agencies and other partners play in protecting these imperiled wildlife species and their habitats,” said Paul Rauch, the Service’s Acting Assistant Director for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. “These partnerships are critical to conserving imperiled species.”

The complete list of 2016 SWG competitive projects can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2016/pdfs/SWG2016ProjectSummaries.pdf (PDF)

For more information regarding the SWG program visit: http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG.htm