Loss of habitat is the primary threat to most species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Land acquisition is often the most effective and immediate means of protecting habitat for these species, particularly in areas where development or land uses inconsistent with species recovery threaten to destroy, modify, or curtail key habitat attributes. Land acquisition is costly and often neither the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) nor states/territories individually have sufficient resources to acquire habitat necessary for listed species conservation.
First awarded in fiscal year 2001, Recovery Land Acquisitions grants, authorized through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, promote state and federal cooperation in listed species conservation by leveraging funds to acquire specific parcels of land, through fee simple or conservation easement conservation easement
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or qualified conservation organization that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on a property in the future. Conservation easements aim to protect habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife by limiting residential, industrial or commercial development. Contracts may prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland and establishment of game farms. Easement land remains in private ownership.
Learn more about conservation easement , in support of Service-approved recovery plans and outlines. The ESA conveys the importance of recovery plans as a central organizing tool for guiding the recovery process by requiring their development for every listed species.
Only a species’ most recently approved recovery planning document will be considered under this opportunity. This includes a Service-approved final recovery plan or draft recovery plan if the species has been listed for at least 2 ½ years. A recovery outline may be referenced if the species has been listed less than 2 ½ years.
To be considered for funding through this opportunity, the land proposed for acquisition must benefit at least one listed species for which (1) habitat loss is identified as a threat; and (2) habitat protection is identified as a priority recovery action in the species’ most recently approved recovery planning document. Further, all applications must state a commitment to funding for, and implementation of, management of the land in perpetuity, consistent with the conservation needs of the species.
While all projects must be consistent with the conservation objectives outlined in a species’ most recently approved recovery planning document, those designed to have a direct and timely impact on species recovery, ideally moving the species toward down or delisting, will be prioritized. Projects that assist in stabilizing endangered and threatened species on the brink of extinction by implementing priority 1 and 2 recovery actions will also be given greater consideration.
To be eligible for funding, a state or territory must currently have, or enter into, a cooperative agreement with the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to section 6(c) of the Endangered Species Act and provide a minimum non-federal cost share of 25 percent, or 10 percent when two or more states or territories implement a joint project. While funding may only be awarded to States, local governments such as counties or groups such as conservation organizations may work in partnership with a State or Territorial agency as a subgrantee.
States and Territories must submit applications through Grantsolutions.gov. Detailed guidance on how to prepare applications is provided in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) available online at grants.gov and grantsolutions.gov. The NOFO should be read carefully to ensure that applications meet all eligibility requirements and are complete upon submission.
The Service is accepting applications for the FY 2023 Recovery Land Acquisition Grants award cycle through March 2, 2023.