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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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May 29, 2003

Contact: Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408
Patricia Fisher (202) 208-5634


Under the new Private Stewardship Grant program envisioned by President Bush when he was still Texas governor, the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced 113 grants totaling more than $9.4 million to individuals and groups to undertake conservation projects on private lands in 43 states for endangered, threatened and other at-risk species.

Nebraska landowners received grants for five conservation projects.

President Bush originally proposed the creation of the Private Stewardship Grant program during a speech in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in June 2000. The grants announced today, the first ever awarded under the program, will benefit species ranging from the whooping crane in Nebraska to the bald eagle in the state of Washington. Each grant must be matched by at least 10 percent of the total project cost either in non-federal dollars or in-kind contributions.

"Conservation, and especially the conservation of imperiled species, must be a partnership between the American people and their government," said Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. "By making these grants, we are empowering citizens to restore habitat on their land and take other steps to protect and recover endangered, threatened and at-risk species."

"Judging from the number of truly innovative grant proposals we reviewed, landowners across the U.S. are eager to work with us to conserve at-risk species," said Service Director Steve Williams. "We anticipate this public/private partnership will result in significant conservation achievements for wildlife and wildlife habitat."

The Private Stewardship Grants Program provides federal grants on a competitive basis to individuals and groups engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that benefit federally listed endangered or threatened species, candidate species or other at-risk species. Under this program, private landowners as well as groups working with private landowners are able to submit proposals directly to the Service for funding to support these efforts. President Bush has requested funding of $10 million for this program in 2004.

The following are the Stewardship Grants funded for projects in Nebraska:

Platte River Channel Habitat Restoration and Enhancement (Application by Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust, Inc.) - Nebraska - ($97,500) - This project will restore a key Platte River segment to habitat for whooping cranes, piping plovers and least terns, as well as declining native fish. Lacking adequate flows to restore natural flooding, this project will use mechanical means to remove vegetation and create backwaters. A large acreage of habitat will be restored and numerous partnerships have formed with private landowners to achieve success.

Platte River Backwater Restoration and Meadow Enhancement (Application by Brad Eifert) - Nebraska - ($9,000) - To restore backwater, wet meadow and adjacent native prairie habitat along the Platte River to benefit a number of wildlife and plant species at risk, including the federally listed whooping crane as well as the candidate black-tailed prairie dog and state imperiled burrowing owl. The project will compliment similar river restoration work currently underway on adjacent properties, thereby increasing the benefits to species at risk over a larger landscape.

Private Lands Habitat Restoration for High Plains Species At Risk (Application by Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory) - Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska - ($76,090) - This focused project will enable landowners in the High Plains to implement habitat management projects to benefit species at risk over a large landscape, including the Black-tailed Prairie Dog and 24 declining grassland birds, such as the Mountain Plover (proposed for listing) and state imperiled Long-billed Curlew and Ferruginous Hawk. The project will restore grassland habitat on over 10,000 acres and two miles of stream by altering grazing management on ranches for a minimum of 10 years and re-seeding cropland with native seed.

Habitat Restoration and Conservation on the Niobrara River, Cherry County, Nebraska (Application by Jackie Canterburg) - Nebraska - ($21,138) - This project will restore wetlands and improve grazing management on and adjacent to the Niobrara River to benefit grassland and wetland-dependant species at risk, particularly numerous declining birds, such as the federally listed Whooping Crane and the state imperiled Lark Bunting and Long-billed Curlew. The landowner applicant has demonstrated sound knowledge of wildlife management needs and costs of providing them on this portion of his ranch and a strong commitment to making the project a success by a willingness to manage the site in perpetuity.

Kugler Platte River Wet Meadow and Grassland Restoration (Application by Kugler Farms, Inc.) - Nebraska - ($28,329) - This project will restore wet meadows and grasslands along the Platte River to the natural habitat it was generations ago. The intention is to address a major threat to natural river functions by increasing available surface water, removing woody debris and maintaining the open habitats by burning and grazing. More than 20 at-risk species will benefit, including the federally listed Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover and Bald Eagle.

For a complete list of Private Partnership Stewardship grant awards, please visit:

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 540 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 governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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