USFWS Wetlands Acquisition Grants

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission recently approved $28 million in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to purchase, lease, restore or otherwise conserve more than 128,000 acres of wetland habitats for ducks, bitterns, sandpipers and other birds in the United States.

Of the total funds approved by the commission, $24.6 million will be provided through North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants to conserve more than 127,000 acres of wetlands and adjoining areas in 16 states. Eight of the 24 grants will target species or areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Grants made through this program require matching investments; the projects approved today will leverage an additional $54.4 million in non-federal matching funds. More information about these grant projects is available at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm.

The commission also announced the approval of more than $3.5 million for fee title land acquisitions of more than 1,700 acres on four national wildlife refuges. These funds were raised largely through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.”

For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents go directly to acquire habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. This year the Federal Duck Stamp celebrates its 80th anniversary.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants

NOAA Fisheries is making available roughly $16.7 million, thru the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, for habitat restoration projects in severely degraded areas of the Great Lakes.

Funded projects are spread throughout Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and New York. They will benefit a variety of important recreational fish species such as lake whitefish, northern pike, and walleye in eight Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a collaborative effort between the Environmental Protection Agency and 15 other federal agencies to build on existing and current work to restore the Great Lakes.

source: greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov

2014 State of the Birds Report

American bird populations are declining across several key habitats, according to a multi-organization report. The report includes a “watch list” of bird species in need of immediate conservation help. The report also reveals, however, that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made, bird populations are recovering.

The State of the Birds 2014 report is considered to be the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The report is authored by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative—a 23-member partnership of government agencies and organizations dedicated to advancing bird conservation.

The report is based on extensive reviews of population data from long-term monitoring. It looks to birds as indicators of ecosystem health by examining population trends of species dependent on one of seven habitats: grasslands, forests, wetlands, ocean, aridlands, islands and coasts.

This year’s report is also a five-year check-in on the indicators presented in the inaugural 2009 State of the Birds report.

Full text of the 2014 State of the Birds Report can be found at stateofthebirds.org.

source: U.S. Department of the Interior

National Wildlife Refuge Week 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is inviting the public to visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week (October 12-18, 2014).

Since 1995, refuges across the country have celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week in early October with festivals, educational programs, guided tours and other events. Many state and local governments proclaim the week every year, and for the past four years Congress has officially recognized it.

U.S. national wildlife refuges provide areas for wildlife watching, hiking, boating, and other activities along 2,500 miles of land and water trails.
The National Wildlife Refuge System includes more than 150 million acres in 562 refuges and 38 wetland management districts.

For more information, visit www.fws.gov/refuges.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Expansion

In September, NOAA released a final rule and environmental impact statement expanding the boundaries of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles.

The new boundaries now include the waters of Lake Huron adjacent to Michigan’s Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle counties to the Canadian border.

The expansion is based on several years of research by NOAA and its many scientific partners, and now protects an additional 100 known and suspected historic shipwreck sites.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 sites managed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the only one in the Great Lakes. Thunder Bay features some of the world’s best-preserved shipwrecks.

The final rule and environmental assessment may be downloaded from the sanctuary’s website,  http://thunderbay.noaa.gov.

source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

news, articles, photography, artwork, and more