The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced more than $66.7 million in grants to 16 states and Guam to support land acquisition and conservation planning projects on over 13,500 acres of habitat for 162 listed and at-risk species through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF). The grants will be matched by more than $35.1 million in partner funds.
“These grants will enable state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies and their partners to advance the stewardship of our nation’s most imperiled species and the habitats upon which they depend,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “This cooperative approach to conservation demonstrates a shared commitment to the Endangered Species Act’s purpose of protecting biodiversity.”
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and partly funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, CESCF grants contribute millions annually to support implementing state and territorial programs to conserve and recover federally listed and at-risk species on non-federal lands. This approach to conservation, done in cooperation with states, territories, willing landowners and local partners, furthers species conservation and economic development.
CESCF land acquisition funding to states is awarded through two nationally competitive grant programs: the Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program, which provides funds for the acquisition of habitat in support of Service-approved recovery plans; and the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Grant Program, which provides funds to acquire habitat for listed and at-risk species to complement conservation strategies of approved HCPs. This year’s awards, totaling more than $57.6 million, will fund the acquisition and permanent protection for 19 projects over 13,500 acres of habitat across 12 states for the benefit of 43 listed and at-risk species.
Examples of projects approved this year include:
- The state of California will receive nearly $4.4 million under the HCP Land Acquisition Grant Program to enable the acquisition and permanent protection for up to 737 acres of land that complement, but do not replace, the mitigation commitments of the Western Riverside Multiple Species HCP in Riverside County. The proposed acquisitions are in ecologically significant, high-priority conservation areas that support key populations of ESA-listed species such as the San Jacinto Valley crownscale, spreading navarretia, coastal California gnatcatcher, thread-leaved brodiaea, Stephens’ kangaroo rat and western spadefoot toad.
- The state of Alabama will receive nearly $2.57 million under the Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program to support the acquisition of 1,728 acres of Red Hills salamander habitat in Monroe County. This project supports the state’s ongoing efforts to permanently protect and restore some of the best remaining habitat for the species across its range and will result in over 13,800 contiguous acres of permanently protected habitat for the species.
The Service also approved more than $9.1 million in grant awards to eight states and Guam under the Conservation Planning Assistance Grant Program. Funding awarded through this program may be used to support the development, renewal or amendment of HCPs, safe harbor agreements and candidate conservation agreements with assurances. Eligible activities include document preparation, public outreach, baseline species surveys, habitat assessments, inventories and environmental compliance. This year’s awards will support 15 conservation planning efforts covering 135 listed, candidate and at-risk species.
Examples of projects approved this year include:
- The state of Hawaii will receive $414,595 to support the completion of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) HCP and associated environmental compliance documents. The HCP will offset the incidental take of nine threatened and endangered species impacted by KIUC's operation and management of power lines and lighting across the island. The species affected include seabirds, water birds and sea turtles. KIUC will minimize take through modifications to power lines to reduce the likelihood of collisions, and adjusting lighting to reduce disorientation. The conservation strategy of the HCP includes establishing, protecting, managing and monitoring seabird colonies; funding a seabird and water bird rehabilitation program; and monitoring nesting sea turtles.
To learn more about the CESCF grant programs, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/program/cooperative-endangered-species-conservation-fund.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for North America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more, visit https://www.fws.gov/program/endangered-species.