|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
|July 14, 2003
Janet Mizzi (HCP Land Acquisition Grants)
303-236-7400 ext 280
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AWARDS $70 MILLION IN GRANTS TO SUPPORT LAND ACQUISITION AND CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to Receive $252,000 Grant
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today awarded more than $70 million in grants to 29 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plant species. The grants will benefit species ranging from the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast to the threatened spectacled eider in Alaska.
Funded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and authorized by Section 6 of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the grants will enable States, working in partnership with private landowners, conservation groups and other agencies and organizations to initiate conservation planning efforts, and to acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
"Today’s grant awards recognize the important work that States and their partners are doing to conserve and recover threatened and endangered species. Grants are an important tool in our efforts to empower local governments and citizens as they seek to develop voluntary conservation partnerships that provide real benefits to listed species," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
A Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is an agreement between a landowner and the Service that allows the landowner to incidentally take a threatened or endangered species in the course of otherwise lawful activities when the landowner agrees to conservation measures to minimize and mitigate the impact of the taking. A Habitat Conservation Plan may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species. There are more than 330 Habitat Conservation Plans currently in effect covering approximately 30 million acres, and some 320 more are being developed.
The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories for acquisition of habitat for endangered and threatened species in support of approved recovery plans. Acquisition of habitat to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will receive a $252,000 Recovery Land Acquisition Grant to acquire and protect 670 acres of important prairie grassland habitat in Lincoln County to benefit populations of American burying beetle. This area of Nebraska harbors one of the largest populations of burying beetles in the nation. The project acquisition will also serve as a demonstration site for prairie management to encourage similar improvements by neighboring private landowners. Protection of this habitat also provides significant benefits for prairie grasslands and declining grassland birds.
Under the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to States or Territories for land acquisitions associated with approved Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). Grants do not fund any mitigation required of an HCP permittee, but are instead intended to support acquisitions by the State or local governments that complement actions associated with the HCP.
In Riverside County, California, a $6.25 million grant will enable the State and its partners to acquire and protect important interconnected habitat to support the Western Riverside Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). This HCP will cover more than 100 Federal and State listed species, including the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, endangered least Bell’s vireo and Stephen’s kangaroo rat. The plant communities found in the area, such as Riverside an sage scrub and riparian habitat are representative of the original, native habitats of the region. Preserving these areas as open space will also enable them to be used for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and mountain biking.
The Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Program provides grants to States and Territories to support the development of Habitat Conservation Plans, through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach, and similar planning activities.
For example, in northern Idaho, a $563,000 HCP Planning Assistance Grant will help the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) work with the Service and other stakeholders to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan to minimize any impacts of IDL activities to listed species. The HCP will provide conservation benefits to listed threatened and endangered species, including grizzly bear, bull trout, lynx, and the critically endangered woodland caribou, while providing the State of Idaho with assurances that important land management practices can continue. Both Idaho and the species will benefit from this HCP. IDL will be able to fulfill its mandate to maximize the long term return from these endowment lands to the beneficiaries with certainty regarding compliance with the Endangered Species Act, and the conservation of listed species will be enhanced.
Nationally, the Section 6 grant programs include the $6.6 million Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, the $51.1 million Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and the $12.7 million 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.
"As someone who has worked for decades at the State and local level on behalf of wildlife conservation, I know these grants really help," said Fish and Wildlife Service director Steve Williams. "They provide not only a financial boost to grantees but also provide encouragement by supporting on-the-ground efforts."
For more information on the 2003 grant awards for these programs see the Service’s Endangered Species home page at http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/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 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 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 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.
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