DENVER- Species across the Mountain-Prairie region will benefit from almost $5.5 million in funding allocated to state wildlife agencies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program. The program provides critical support for imperiled species and habitats listed in approved State Wildlife Action Plans. Funds were allocated to state wildlife agencies in Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana.
“State wildlife agencies are critical in protecting America’s wild places and the animals that live there. These funds are an important component in their conservation and management efforts, and one that the Service is proud to help support,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By working together with these and other partners, I am confident we can effectively conserve our nation’s natural legacy on a landscape scale for current and future generations of Americans.”
Examples of SWG projects include:
- Monarch Butterflies: With support from SWG funding, many states are joining in the nationwide effort to protect and restore the beloved monarch butterfly. Monarch populations have declined by over 90 percent in the last few decades. Causes of their decline include loss of milkweed and prairie habitat and loss of habitat in their overwintering grounds. By designing and implementing projects such as species and habitat analyses, as well as active propagation of the butterfly, SWG funds are having a significant impact on monarch conservation and habitat restoration efforts. The 2015-16 monarch butterfly population estimates released by Mexico this month reflect a 255% increase in the area occupied by monarchs in their overwintering habitat since last year. At least 18 states have added the species to their State Wildlife Action Plans, enabling them to use SWG funding to actively manage monarch populations and build on this momentum.
- Greater Sage-Grouse: SWG funding has supported western states in researching and conserving greater sage-grouse since 2002. Funds awarded to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies supported the first detailed assessment of greater sage-grouse on a range-wide scale, including 14 western states. Current projects funded by SWG are underway in California, Colorado, Montana and Washington, and include habitat and genetic analysis, research on migration patterns and disease, as well as active reintroduction and augmentation projects. Through these and other proactive measures, the SWG program has contributed to the Service's 2015 decision to remove the greater sage-grouse as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
SWG grants are administered by the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program and are allocated to states and territories according to a congressionally mandated formula based on population and geographic area. Grant funds must be used to address conservation needs, such as research, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management, and monitoring identified within State Wildlife Action Plans. The funds may also be used to update, revise or modify a state’s plan.
“This program would not be possible without our dedicated state, federal and non-governmental partners,” said WSFR Assistant Director Hannibal Bolton. “In addition to saving wildlife and their habitats, these efforts are also creating jobs which will support this critical mission for generations to come.”
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.
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