Imperiled wildlife across the nation will benefit from approximately $7.4 million in grants thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Competitive State Wildlife Grant (C-SWG) program. The program supports projects led by state, territory and commonwealth fish and wildlife agencies protecting vulnerable wildlife and their habitats.
This year’s primary grantees include agencies in Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Additional state agencies will receive grant funds through partnerships with these grantee agencies. The funds will be used to implement a total of 21 conservation projects.
“The Competitive State Wildlife Grants provide a proactive, collaborative and innovative mechanism for addressing significant threats to our nation’s cherished wildlife and their habitats. Stemming the crisis of species extinction is a central component of the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative,” said Martha Williams, the Service’s Principal Deputy Director. “One of the initiative’s goals is to enhance wildlife habitat and improve biodiversity to keep species from reaching the point where they are too far gone to save. In addition, these grants provide support for State Wildlife Action Plans that underpin important efforts to conserve imperiled species and their habitats.”
These projects include timely actions, such as range-wide species assessments and habitat improvements, that may help avert the need for new federal endangered species listings and that help states implement Service recovery plans to cooperatively protect and conserve species that are currently listed. The FY 2021 projects also include efforts to implement improvements to State Wildlife Action Plans through increased use of climate science, mapping technologies, and shared data-bases that improve states’ abilities to conserve species at regional or landscape scales.
The C-SWG program employs a nationally competitive process to select and fund projects that conserve species listed in State Wildlife Action Plans. All 56 state, territorial and commonwealth wildlife agencies have such plans, which target state-identified Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The program facilitates collaboration among state, federal, Tribal and nongovernmental fish and wildlife managers, creating nationwide conservation networks. Fortifying this spirit of collaboration is $2.8 million in nonfederal funds provided by states and their partners.
Examples of this year’s projects include:
Alaska’s Wildlife Action Plan currently highlights the presence or absence of species of greatest conservation need within nine broad geographic regions. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will develop maps of species richness and quantify key climatic, topographic and habitat variables that correlate with biodiversity hotspots for groups of at-risk species that are categorized at different levels of conservation concern.
The Hawai’i Department of Lands and Natural Resources will join forces with the University of Hawai’i-Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and the Service to implement conservation actions for rare, yellow-faced bees on O’ahu. Stabilization and recovery of some of the last populations of the bees on O’ahu is achievable with the installation of fencing around key habitat, planting of diverse native plant species correlated with nesting success, and deployment of artificial nest habitat, which provides protection against predators.
States partnering with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will analyze where Blanding’s turtle populations currently exist, increase habitat for the species on public and private lands, and document how the turtle responds to various management actions. The partners will use radio telemetry to evaluate the effectiveness of management approaches. Iowa will also implement protocols for head-starting Blanding’s turtles, which will likely increase the population size in Iowa.
State agencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin will build on prior efforts to improve habitats to benefit pollinators, reptiles, amphibians, birds and other species associated with the prairie-savanna-oak woodland continuum of the Driftless Area. The agencies will engage private landowners directly in habitat management by providing technical and financial assistance to implement restoration actions in partnership with 50 families. Among other species, these activities will benefit the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bee and the monarch butterfly, a candidate species.
Turtle populations are declining rapidly due, in large part, to the illegal collection for domestic and international trade, and many species are threatened with extinction. A
C-SWG-funded project in Virginia will provide resources needed for conducting disease screening, genetic analyses and coordination among state wildlife agencies to identify recipient sites and long-term housing facilities for illegally harvested turtles such as Blanding’s, wood and spotted turtles. It will establish the safest, most efficient and cost-effective process for getting turtles back to their state of origin.
The complete list of 2021 SWG competitive projects can be found here:https://www.fws.gov/wsfrprograms/subpages/grantprograms/swg/SWG_Funding.ht
The C-SWG Program is part of the larger SWG Program, which awards grants according to a formula described in the annual appropriations act and based on a state, territory or commonwealth’s geographical size and population. For more information on the SWG program visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG.htm.
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. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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