U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service | Southeast Region News Release
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Southeast Landowners to Receive Grants for Conservation


May 7, 2001

Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing 48 grants worth $5 million to projects in 28 states and Puerto Rico to help citizens conduct endangered species conservation activities on private property.

"From bog turtles in New Jersey to prairie chickens in Texas to waterfowl in Alaska, private citizens are making a difference for threatened and endangered species," says Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior. "I look forward to building upon these relationships with private landowners to protect imperiled species."

The grants are part of the Endangered Species Act Landowner Incentive Program, an initiative established three years ago by Congress to provide financial assistance and incentives to private property owners who are willing to voluntarily conserve listed species, species that are proposed for listing, and other rare, but unlisted, species. To date, the Service has made more than 100 grants worth $15 million. To qualify for this program, private landowners, Native American tribes, or other non-federal partners contribute at least 10 percent of the cost of the project in either cash or in-kind services such as labor or supplies.

"Much of the habitat for threatened and endangered species occurs on private land," says Marshall Jones, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "That is why we need the direct involvement and support of private landowners to assist in our conservation and recovery efforts. These grants will help landowners who voluntarily come to the rescue of our nation's imperiled plants and animals."

"In the Southeast Region, we received $883,000 in grant money for projects with private landowners. This money will fund twelve projects in the southeast that will benefit threatened, endangered, or other rare and declining species," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "We're very excited about these projects and the environmental benefits that they will provide, but we're most excited about the level of commitment that participating landowners have shown for this program," Hamilton continued.

The Service's Southeast Region is comprised of 10 states - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee - and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For the first time since the program's inception, a portion of the Region's ESA Landowner Incentive Program funding will go to each southeastern state and Puerto Rico to address priority conservation projects ranging from restoration of rare plant communities, to protection of stream corridors and stream flows, to construction of new nesting or breeding sites for listed species.

Some of the projects funded in the Southeast Region include:

  • Longleaf Pine/Red-cockaded Woodpecker Conservation Incentives - This project, which received $300,000, involves the restoration and protection of imperilled longleaf pine habitat in the seven coastal plain states within the region. This project will fund a number of initiatives including (1) the development of statewide, programmatic Safe Harbor Agreements (SHAs) in the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina to benefit the red-cockaded woodpecker; (2) implementation of restoration activities for existing SHAs in the sandhills of North Carolina and the state of South Carolina; (3) development of two individual landowner SHAs for red-cockaded woodpeckers in Mississippi; (4) implementation of longleaf pine habitat management for the Louisiana pine snake in Louisiana; and (5) construction or restoration of breeding ponds for rare amphibians that inhabit longleaf pine forests within the southeast.
  • Spring- and Seep-Dependent Species Conservation and Restoration, Tennessee - This project received $75,000 to assist private landowners in middle Tennessee with spring restoration, riparian buffer enhancement, and species reintroduction activities to benefit the barrens topminnow, Sequatchie caddisfly, and the endangered royal snail. Participating landowners will conduct a number of activities designed to enhance habitat and water quality for these species including installation of fencing to exclude cattle from aquatic habitats, installation of off-stream water sources for cattle, planting of riparian vegetation along streams, and reintroduction of these species into suitable habitats.
  • Cave Gates, Arkansas - This project received $75,000 for construction of critical cave gates in Arkansas. Cave gates are an effective means to protect listed species, such as gray bats, Indiana bats, and Ozark cavefish, from destructive activities such as cave vandalism, excessive cave exploration, and dumping. This funding will be matched with funding from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and with funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program to gate high priority caves for these species.
  • Buck Creek Riparian Restoration, Kentucky - This project received $50,000 to conduct watershed restoration and protection activities in Buck Creek. Buck Creek contains a number of federally listed freshwater mussels and other rare aquatic species and is considered one of Kentucky's "Outstanding Resource Waters". The money will be used in a collaborative effort among state, federal, and local partners to help protect this critical aquatic resource area.
  • Shelta Cave Gate Replacement, Alabama - This project was funded at $5,000 and will involve the replacement of the existing cave gate at Shelta Cave near Huntsville, Alabama. This project will benefit the endangered gray bat and Alabama cave shrimp as well as a host of other cave-related species. The participating landowner is the National Speleological Society, whose headquarters is located on the property. The project and its benefits to cave species will be highlighted by the landowner through the use of a variety of educational exhibits and displays at the site.
  • Pitahaya Reforestation, Puerto Rico - This project received $35,000 to facilitate reforestation activities within the dry forest region of Puerto Rico. Landowners will receive incentive funding to fence cattle out of restored areas and plant native tree and herbaceous plant species. This project will provide direct benefits to two endangered birds that only occur in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican nightjar and the yellow-shouldered blackbird. Landowners will work with the Puerto Rican Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the Service's Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge to implement the restoration projects.
  • Rockcastle River Riparian Restoration, Kentucky - This project received $25,000 in funding to help protect another of Kentucky's "Outstanding Resource Waters". The Rockcastle River contains 40 species of freshwater mussels, including several that are federally listed, which represents 39 percent of the total known species of mussels in Kentucky. This project will utilize the efforts of local, state, and federal partnerships to develop watershed protection projects to maintain high water quality and limit the introduction of sediments and other pollutants.
  • Red Wolf Habitat Conservation, North Carolina - This project received $25,000 to help two private landowners in eastern North Carolina improve and protect habitat for the endangered red wolf. These landowners provide critical buffer habitat to the red wolf population on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge near Manteo, North Carolina. The funding would be used to improve the habitat within these buffers through prescribed burning and the establishment of native plant communities.
  • Karst Initiative, Arkansas - This project was funded for a total of $150,000 of which $50,000 will go to the Service's Southeast Region for projects implemented by the Arkansas Field Office to protect karst resources. The additional funding will go to Field Offices in the states of Missouri and Oklahoma to address karst resource needs in those states. Karst is a general term that refers to rocky, limestone geologic features and related caves and sinkholes. The funding will be used to protect cave and other subterrainian features and species focusing on the protection of groundwater resources.
The ESA Landowner Incentive Program is part of a broad effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide technical and financial assistance, as well as regulatory certainty, to private landowners to address the needs of threatened and endangered species with the need for economic development. For example, the Service is working on 40 "Safe Harbor" agreements with private landowners. Under these agreements, landowners who take actions to benefit listed species can be assured that these actions will not lead to any additional restrictions on the use of their land in the future if listed species are attracted to their property. In the southeast, Safe Harbor efforts have focused on protection of mature pine habitats that can support red-cockaded woodpeckers and other listed and rare species that inhabit those open pine communities. The Service is also developing about 90 Candidate Conservation Agreements with private landowners and other non-federal partners to undertake actions on private and public lands to conserve a number of species before they are listed as threatened or endangered. In support of these agreements, recipients may be eligible to receive grants for fencing, planting, habitat restoration, and other conservation activities. Implementation of many of these agreements may result in increased levels of conservation for affected species which may help preclude the need for the Fish and Wildlife Service to list some or all of these species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.

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Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

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