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A butterfly covered in white spots with orange and yellow wings perched on a purple flower.
Information icon A monarch butterfly on a purple plant with bright colors in the background. Photo by Christine Lisiewski.

Service provides $5.7 million in grants to help conserve monarch butterflies and other at-risk species in 11 states

Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina benefit from two grants in the Southeast

Washington, D.C. — The monarch butterfly, Topeka shiner and gopher tortoise are among the imperiled species that will benefit from $5.7 million in grants to 11 states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Competitive State Wildlife Grants program. The grants focus on large-scale conservation projects to conserve and recover species of greatest conservation need and their habitats. They will be matched by more than $2.9 million in non-federal funds from states and their partners.

In addition to offering funds to these 11 states, the Service is also awarding two grants totaling $605,771 to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, to be distributed to several western states and their partners for cooperative conservation projects.

“State Wildlife Grants demonstrate the Service’s commitment to conserving pollinators and other imperiled species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “I commend our state grantees and their conservation partners for their efforts in responding to mounting conservation challenges.”

This year, the Service encouraged state applicants to design projects to benefit pollinators, as well as other at-risk species. Successful applicants include the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, which will establish a captive propagation program for rare native invertebrates including the Kamehameha butterfly; state fish and wildlife agencies in Idaho and Washington, who will partner with the Xerces Society to map the distribution and relative abundance of milkweed and the monarch butterflies that depend on it in order to help assess and reduce threats to both species; and Ohio and Michigan state fish and wildlife agencies, that will restore oak savannah to benefit the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly.

State Wildlife Grant-funded projects are identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. These plans assess the health of each state’s wildlife and habitats, identify the problems they face and outline the actions needed to conserve them over the long term.

“We appreciate the strong ties formed by state agencies and their partners to protect these imperiled wildlife species and their habitats,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s Assistant Director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. “The State Wildlife Grants program is a catalyst for collaborative conservation, and we look forward to continued partnership success for the future of America’s wildlife.”

Check out the 2015 State Wildlife Grant projects for the Southeast:

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Title: Using an Ecosystem Engineer to Restore Functionality of Natural Pinelands in the Southeastern United States

State(s): Florida, Alabama, Georgia

Goals and Objectives: Pocket gophers are known ecosystem engineers that promote diversity and resilience of the natural pinelands ecosystems where they are known to occur. Their tunneling activity aerates soils and provides bare ground for colonization by herbaceous plants, increasing plant diversity and productivity while providing shelter for numerous insects and vertebrates. This project will examine the historical range of pocket gophers to determine what conditions and management practices will create favorable conditions for restoring them to southeastern natural pinelands ecosystems. The partners will identify areas for translocations, develop a standardized method for restoration, and monitor population abundance in restored areas.

Federal Funds requested: $491,667; Non-Federal Match: $217,015

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Title: Multi-State Sandhill/Upland Longleaf Pine Ecological Restoration

State(s): Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina

Goals and Objectives: Conservation of the longleaf pine ecosystem is a high priority identified in the Wildlife Action Plans of the partnering State fish and wildlife agencies. Within this endangered ecosystem, the gopher tortoise is considered a “keystone” species in that its burrows provide refuge for over 300 species of invertebrates and a number of rare vertebrates. The persistence of gopher tortoise is critical to the maintenance of wildlife diversity, and the species is federally listed as threatened in the western portion of its range and has been petitioned for listing in the eastern part of its range. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that listing as threatened in its eastern range is “warranted but precluded.” Partnering agencies will demonstrate strategic habitat conservation by focusing restoration actions on priority sites identified in the Wildlife Action Plans, and using standardized monitoring to assess effectiveness.

Federal Funds requested: $500,000; Non-Federal Match: $246,748

For a complete national list of the 2015 State Wildlife Grant projects, please visit


Christina Meister,
(703) 358-2284 (FWS, National)

Phil Kloer, USFWS

Lisa Thompson,
(727) 896-8626. (Florida)

Rick Lavender,
706.557.3327 (Georgia)

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 Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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