The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced nearly $33 million in grants to 21 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.
The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species, ranging from the Peninsular bighorn sheep to Kirtland’s warbler.
“Our strong partnerships with states, landowners and local communities are the key to the successful protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species, and these grants will fund important conservation work,” said Secretary Salazar. “While dozens of imperiled species will benefit from these efforts, improving the health of our land and water will also help the people, communities and economies that depend on these resources.”
Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, these competitive grants enable states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
“Ensuring the survival of imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The vital funding provided by these grants is matched by the states and leveraged to great advantage in helping conserve and recover some of the most imperiled wildlife in the country.”
This year, the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund provides approximately $9.5 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $15 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $8.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help advance creative partnerships for imperiled species conservation recovery.
A complete list of the 2012 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html.
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service. These agreements allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species, when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species.
Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisition that complements the conservation objectives of approved HCPs.
In the Pacific Region, for example, the State of Washington will receive $3.7 million to protect 4,160 acres in southern Asotin County, including four miles of critical bull trout habitat along the Lower Grande Ronde River and three miles of riparian habitat along Cougar Creek. This project is part of a larger, landscape-level conservation effort that will protect over 15 miles of streams and 13,000 acres of habitat that support federally listed bull trout and steelhead as well as the unlisted interior redband trout, elk, bighorn sheep, deer and golden eagles.
In Oregon, a $1.3 million grant will help acquire 602 acres in Benton County to protect upland prairie, oak woodland and wetland prairie habitats critical to the stability and recovery of Fender’s blue butterfly, Kincaid’s lupine, Bradshaw’s lomatium, Willamette daisy and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. The properties targeted for acquisition will link and aggregate properties that have similar, important conservation values across a landscape that has experienced considerable fragmentation and development, yet remains a key area for populations of prairie species. The Greenbelt Land Trust and the Benton County, as sub-grantees of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, will acquire and protect the property in perpetuity.
The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities.
For example, $407,000 from this grant will continue the work of seven primary irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin and the City of Prineville in the development of an HCP that will benefit aquatic and riparian-dependent species in the upper Deschutes Basin, including bull trout and steelhead, while meeting current and future irrigation and municipal water needs in a balanced, economically viable, and sustainable manner. Once completed, the HCP will provide ecosystem benefits to large areas of the upper Deschutes River basin, including the Metolius, Crooked, and Deschutes River Basins.
The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states and territories to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Habitat acquisition to secure long term protection is often an essential element of a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.
One of this year’s grants will provide $1.2 million to enable the State of Hawaii to acquire 3,128 acres of sensitive coastal habitat, including more than a mile of coastline on the southern coast of the island of Hawaii. These beaches are important habitat for hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals. The property is adjacent to the largest natural area reserve in the state and will provide landscape-level protection of the area’s unique ecosystems and habitats.
The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for 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 about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.