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$425,000 in recovery funding to help restore wildlife habitat on Western North Carolina private lands

As part of the federal economic stimulus effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has awarded $425,000 in grants to three western North Carolina non-profits to help restore wildlife habitat on private lands.

The Little Tennessee Watershed Association, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, and the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council will use the funds for stream and wetland restoration projects on private lands in three of the Service’s priority areas: the Little Tennessee River watershed, the Upper French Broad River watershed, and the Upper Nolichucky River watershed — each home to federally endangered species.

“These grants will help local organizations and local people accomplish what really are some tremendous on-the-ground conservation projects,” said Service biologist Anita Goetz.

The Little Tennessee Watershed Association will receive $75,000 to restore aquatic organism passage along tributaries of the Little Tennessee River in Macon County. This follows a 20072008 examination of stream-road crossings to identify those impassable to fish and other aquatic life due to collapsed culverts, culverts perched above the stream, or poorly designed or maintained bridges. Although there may be miles of healthy habitat upstream, these blockages prevent fish and other stream life from moving into those areas. This effort comes on the heels of recent research showing that the threatened spotfin chub fish migrates from the Little Tennessee River up into the river’s tributaries each fall.

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy will receive $200,000 to help restore and manage southern Appalachian bogs and adjacent streams in the Upper French Broad River Watershed. The restoration will occur mainly on CMLC’s lands and those of the private landowners who have worked with the organization to conserve their own property. Appalachian bogs are one of the rarest natural communities in the nation, with less than 500 acres known to exist in North Carolina. They’re home to numerous federally protected species including the bog turtle, North America’s smallest turtle, and a number of plants including swamp pink, bunched arrowhead, and mountain sweet pitcher plant.

The Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council will receive $150,000 to improve streams in the Mitchell and Yancey County portion of the Upper Nolichucky River watershed. This area is home to the endangered Appalachian elktoe mussel and numerous rare fish. The money will help fund dam removal, restore stream-side forests, stabilize stream banks, and eradicate invasive exotic species.

The grants are awarded through the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program which provides technical and financial assistance to improve fish and wildlife habitat on privately-owned lands.

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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. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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